NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University hospitality program students will host the Kentucky Derby fundraising event at 6 p.m. April 1 at the Fredonia Hotel.

Themed “The Winner’s Circle,” the event will feature a four-course dining experience inspired by traditional Kentucky Derby dishes. A cocktail reception with a cash bar will open an hour prior to the meal, and silent and live auctions will take place throughout the evening. 

The event benefits the School of Human Sciences through student scholarships, student travel funds to conferences and industry events, and faculty development programs. 

Students enrolled in the special events production course — along with help from students in the Introduction to Hospitality course — will plan and execute the event. The students’ responsibilities include deciding the theme, menu, décor and other aspects of the event. 

“This event is significant because it raises funds to enhance student learning, all of which is done while providing a transformative learning experience for the students in the class,” said Carlie Allen, adjunct professor in the School of Human Sciences. “Students are able to show their knowledge of event management, catering, customer service and culinary arts. This opportunity is vital for students to understand all the components of event planning. For many, this is the first hands-on experience they will have in their chosen career.”

Guests are encouraged to wear traditional derby attire, which include big hats, bow ties and colorful dresses. Tickets are $60 per person and $100 per couple, or $400 for a table of eight. Tickets need to be purchased in advance at