OXFORD, Miss. – The Oxford Square will show off its knack for Southern
hospitality this fall when the University of Mississippi’s Department
of Family and Consumer Sciences hosts its first Square Toast for
Scholarships food-and-wine fundraiser.
FCS, part of UM’s School of Applied Sciences, has scheduled the event
for 5-8 p.m. Oct. 6. It includes food-and-wine tastings at 25
locations. In addition to restaurants located on the Square, off-Square
restaurants will also take part by partnering with retailers on the
Square. Wine brokers will be at the locations to pour their wines.
Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door, and include a wine glass. Proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction taking place that evening in front of the courthouse go toward scholarships for students enrolled in the department’s hospitality management program. The goal this year is to raise $10,000.
Auction items include a four-day/three-night trip to a Sandals Resort, gift certificates to area restaurants and local cookbooks. Event sponsors include the city of Oxford and the Oxford Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The event has received a tremendous response from restaurants and retailers, said Jim Taylor, assistant professor of hospitality management who is advising students in pulling the project together.
Three students, Taylor and instructor Candis Varnell masterminded this first event starting last spring. This semester, six students will see the event through and evaluate it. Their feedback will be used to plan the event in 2009. The students will get class credit and experience in hosting a townwide fundraising event, Taylor said.
“I have never seen anything like this before on campus,” said Jeremy Roberts of Clinton. Roberts, who holds one degree from Ole Miss and is pursuing a second degree in hospitality management, is involved in planning the event. Roberts said he is impressed with the hands-on experience he is receiving.
“The entire department is coming together,” he said, adding that students are taking charge of details, including planning the entertainment, working with local media to promote the event, selling tickets, organizing the silent auction and setting up and breaking down the day of the event.
In the future, Taylor said he hopes that spring hospitality classes will continue to plan the event and fall classes will carry it out. He envisions Square Toast eventually becoming a weekend festival, such as the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ UNLVino or the Food Network’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which benefits food and wine programs at Florida International University. Those events inspired Taylor to give Square Toast a try. Hospitality students like Roberts ensured it was possible.
“It’s such a pleasure to work with motivated students,” Taylor said.
For more information about the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/fcs/ . For more information on Square Toast for Scholarships or assistance related to a disability, contact Taylor at 662-915-7371.