NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Students in Stephen F. Austin State University’s hospitality administration program invite you to celebrate the Kentucky Derby on April 9, with dinner, drinks and a silent auction at The Fredonia Hotel.

The third annual Hospitality Shindig begins at 6 p.m. with a cash bar reception featuring a bourbon tasting. Dinner, which begins at 7 p.m., will be prepared and served by SFA hospitality administration students.

Derby attire, including fancy hats, pastel dresses, seersucker suits and bow ties, is encouraged.

“The goal of this student-run event is to teach students how to plan and implement an event, including drawing up a budget, creating a menu, marketing the event, selling tickets, recruiting sponsors and booking live entertainment,” said April Smith, an instructor for SFA’s School of Human Sciences. “This event involves students from throughout the hospitality program.”

Shelby Sellars, a senior from Decatur, said, “We hope to wow the guests by demonstrating through this hands-on learning experience how we work together to plan and execute an engaging event with fine food and entertainment for the community.”

Ireland Bramhall, a senior from Ennis, added, “We want the guests to have fun while celebrating this great tradition that dates back to 1876.”

The Kentucky Derby, known as “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” draws more than 150,000 people every year to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

SFA’s Kentucky Derby dinner and auction serve as fundraisers to support hospitality administration student scholarships, field trips, conferences and faculty development activities. Sponsorship opportunities are available for the event.

“Our whole industry is about gaining experience and the knowledge to apply to our everyday lives,” said Macie Pelt, a sophomore from Waxahachie. “That is what SFA gives us. From our learning here, we are able to launch a successful career.”

The public can purchase tickets for $60, a pair of tickets for $100 and a table for six for $300 at  

For more information about sponsorships, email Smith at