Oxford Eagle Coverage
Square Toast for Scholarships
Monday, November 8, 2010
Back in 2008, the Hospitality Management students from the Family & Consumer Sciences department at Ole Miss put together what I would say is one of the very best public events in town: the Square Toast for Scholarships. Now in its third year, the Square Toast promises once again to be THE fall event for food lovers in the Oxford area.
Here’s how it works: On the evening of Nov. 8, the area around the Square will essentially transform into one large, varied restaurant. Check in at the courthouse between 5-8 p.m., and you’ll receive both a wine glass and a map to show participating vendors. The idea is that as you stroll in and around the Square from 6-9 p.m., many of the shops and restaurants will have food and wine to be tasted. You can get your fill at one place while you shop, then walk it off before you get to the next location.
Well, maybe “get your fill” isn’t a great idea: there will be about 32 vendors contributing to the event, so you might want to pace yourself. Places on the Square that will be involved include Old Venice, Two Stick, Prime, City Grocery, Irie, Downtown Grill, Boure, and Proud Larry’s. But there will also be many places from farther afield, such as Ravine, Petit Milletts, Taylor Grocery, and Snackbar, who will be set up inside the participating retail venues. These include—but aren’t limited to—Cicada, LuLu’s, Ellie James, and Something Southern. As a special treat, Dickie Brennan will be coming up again from New Orleans to serve food, as will the Old Country Store from Jackson, Tenn.
Don’t worry about getting lost; this year they’re attaching balloons to participating stores to help attendees find their way.
But before you set off on the adventure, check out the silent auction items. You’ll be able to bid on many gift certificates from local merchants and restaurants, jewelry, a gift basket from the Biltmore in North Carolina, two plane tickets from SouthWest, and even Civil War-era Mississippi currency that was donated by a local collector!
According to Hospitality Management Instructor Candis Varnell, the event is growing by leaps and bounds each year, and new vendors are still asking to join in. She remarks that they’ve really listened to suggestions and comments past participants have made, so this year, they will be selling sets that include a glass for wine and a neck lanyard for $10 (the regular purchase price includes a plastic wine cup). In addition, she notes that a local photographer will be taking pictures throughout the event that will be available for purchase online.
The best part of it all, however, is how his social function was conceived in order to fulfill many needs: it will help provide funding for their program; it will fund scholarships for students who are unable to attend conferences and programs important to their career study; and it provides practical work experience for the students, who are the ones putting the whole shebang together. And this doesn’t even cover how it—in the jargon of current politics—“stimulates the local economy.”
If you haven’t bought tickets yet, you can get them online at http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/nhm/Square_Toast/index.php and view all the participating vendors. Tickets cost $50 in advance. You can also pay on the day of the event, but it will cost $60 then.
— Shanna Flaschka