StompFest celebrates inclusivity during its 20th anniversary

Stompfest will be returning live and in person this year, set for Saturday in the SUB bowl. Lariat file photo

By Jenna Frisby | Social Media Editor

One of Baylor’s most beloved traditions, StompFest, is coming up on Saturday, April 17 at 7:20 p.m. in the SUB Bowl.

Different campus organizations come together to compete in stepping routines for prize money benefiting their philanthropies. This university-wide event is hosted by National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) organization, Nu Iota chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. in conjunction with the Department of Student Activities.

The executive producer of the show is Fresno senior Forche Bridges. As the behind-the-scenes coordinator of the show, Bridges said her job is important in order to bring her sorority’s vision to life and promote unity among participants.

“StompFest has always been about inclusivity and sharing the history of stepping which comes from a lot of the NPHC organizations,” Bridges said. “Just being able to connect different student groups together and putting on one big production. One night of inclusivity, fun and pure energy.”

The show’s high energy and unique format set StompFest apart from other university-sponsored events, Bridges said. The art of stepping is deeply rooted in the sorority’s culture.

“Stepping is an interactive form of dance, rhythm and percussive movement in which you use your body. Sometimes it involves physical stepping with different rhythms and patterns, sometimes it’s clapping,” she said. “It really stems from a place of dance and storytelling.”

Participants in StompFest are paired with coaches from the council in order to learn more about the history of stepping while also mastering the stepping movement. Robbinsville, NJ Senior Aliyah Daniel is a coach in this year’s show and said why she is passionate about the event.

“I love StompFest because each year is exciting and unique in its own way, but the core values are never lost,” Daniels said. “Putting on a great show is just one part of the overall goal to raise money for our philanthropies.”

While putting on a production this extravagant is no easy task, planning StompFest during a pandemic brought upon its own set of challenges. Bridges said the biggest difference this year is the location of the show.

This year, StompFest will be held on the stage outside the SUB Bowl, as opposed to the usual Waco Hall location. The outside venue is open to the Baylor community to come and enjoy, with proper COVID-19 guidelines enforced.

Bridges said she is excited about the presence of an audience and feels fortunate to be hosting an in-person event given the circumstances.

“From the beginning, we knew that we wanted to make sure that everyone is remaining safe and that we could have that in-person experience. That is one of the main things that performers thrive off of and is one of the key components of any step show production,” Bridges said.

Watchung, NJ senior Reagan McRae participated in StompFest in 2019 representing Zeta Tau Alpha and won second place prize. McRae said the StompFest atmosphere is unique from other university events, such as Sing.

“It was so cool to go from sing where the music was blasting the entire time for a 200 person act, to stomp where the nine of us had to fill all of Waco Hall with just our feet and hands. It was also really fun to perform in a completely different way than I was used to while being encouraged by everyone watching,” McRae said.

With so much change this year during the pandemic, Bridges said the show is one Baylor tradition that won’t change.

“StompFest at its core is one thing that we’ve been able to keep, especially with it being our 20th anniversary this year,” Bridges said.