Hospitality Students Turn Back the Clock with “World Fairs” Gala

BIG RAPIDS − Elements of the world’s colorful cultures unite when students in the Hospitality program bring the World Fairs to Ferris State University for their 18th annual Hospitality Gala.

Celebrated as one of the oldest and grandest expos, the World Fairs brought people who are worlds apart together to unite in their differences and experience each other’s food, trade and art. The tradition continues as the students conclude their yearlong preparation for the “Turn of the Century World Fairs” Gala on Friday, March 27, at the Holiday Inn with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres starting at 5:30 p.m.

The gala is the Hospitality program’s most extensive annual fundraising event. It gives students a chance to gain real community experience while replenishing the department’s funds for student scholarships, travel expenses for field trips and new equipment.

“This event is not only financially successful, but is also an excellent learning experience for all of the students in the program. The faculty and program coordinator work closely with the executive board to make this event a learning fundraiser,” said Liz Block, a senior in the Hospitality program and Chief Operating Officer for the 2009 Gala.

There are many meticulous details that go into the yearlong planning of the annual gala. Being the COO, Block is responsible for day-to-day operations of planning the execution of the event. She, along with the other members of the executive board, interviews and selects applicants for management committees for seven departments: Dining Room, Food & Beverage, Special Services, Fundraising, Theme & Decor, Production and Marketing & Logistics.

In order to create a beautiful event, the students are very meticulous about every detail of the night. The Dining Room managers select the linen and napkins for the tables, train their wait staff and plan on how guests will be welcomed upon entering the gala. Meanwhile, the Food & Beverage managers work to select items for the menu, aiding the guest chefs, procurement and helping fellow students with the preparation of the menu.

The Theme & Decor managers set the tone for the event by using their creative minds to bring the theme to life. By working with professionals in the industry, they incorporate the theme into all aspects of the gala. Concurrently, the Production team handles the lighting, stage and entertainment.

Special Services creates and mails invitations, and also manages all on site registration and correspondence. The Fundraising managers send out the Silent Auction request letters and organize the donations as they arrive, as well as manage the auction the night of the gala. The Marketing & Logistics department is responsible for all marketing, advertising and public relations activities for the event. In addition, they also transport all the needed material to the Holiday Inn and Conference Center the day of the gala.

“I've been part of the planning committee for the Hospitality Gala for three years. I can't explain the feeling I get when I look around the ballroom and see what I was a part of. Not to mention all the learning experiences that I obtained while planning it,” adds Block. “It gives me a sense of pride to see all our hard work displayed.”

In congruence with this year’s theme for the Gala, a festive-minded audience will enjoy a five-course dinner prepared by a variety of executive guest chefs from Big Rapid’s The Blue Cow Restaurant as well as JW Marriott, The B.O.B. / Gilmore Collection and Spectrum Health Services of Grand Rapids. Also included are guest chefs from DMS of Chicago and the Great Lake Culinary Academy of Traverse City.

Also included in the evening will be live entertainment and a silent auction. The silent auction includes hotel stays, restaurant gift certificates, golf packages, spa robes and other gifts donated by alumni and supporters from the industry.

For the event, the Hospitality Program partners with FSU Catering Services, FSU Copy Center, and the Holiday Inn and Conference Center to make visions of a fun-filled night become reality. Other programs across campus contribute to the gala: the Welding Engineering Technology department constructed a seven-foot mobile Ferris wheel for the themed event and the Television and Digital Media Production program will create a video about the gala to be posted on the Hospitality Web site.

18 March, 2009