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KNOXVILLE — Start with a gourmet dinner designed by some of the area’s finest chefs from locally grown and produced food.

Add a dash of entertainment and top it off with an auction of irresistible items.

Mix it all up and you’ve got Appalachian Spring, the eighth annual fundraiser that helps provide University of Tennessee, Knoxville, retail and hospitality students with an enriched education experience.

Tickets are now on sale for this year’s Appalachian Spring, to be held at 6 p.m. on March 27 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 401 W. Summit Hill Drive, Knoxville.

A variety of pricing packages are available. For information and to reserve tickets, contact or call (865) 974-6614.

John Antun, assistant professor of hotel, restaurant and tourism management and the founder and director of UT’s Culinary Institute, said the event — organized by students — is not only a wonderful evening out, but also an opportunity to provide significant assistance to students in the Department of Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management.

“This annual event gives our students hands-on experience in planning and running a high-profile, elegant event,” he said. Students in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism 435 operate as the event planners while students in Retail and Consumer Sciences 495 manage the auction, which will feature items including a cabin stay in the Smokies; a Gaylord Opryland getaway; a day in Lynchburg with a distillery tour, private tasting and dinner; diamond earrings; UT items and more.

Money raised through the event is used to support student participation in class field trips, internships, leadership and team-building courses, study tours and simulation exercises.

Last year’s event raised more than $45,000.

“Many deserving students would not have been able to take advantage of these opportunities without this level of support,” said Nancy Rutherford, professor and head of the Department of Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Several items on the reception menu have been inspired by Lynne Tolley, Jack Daniel’s great-grandniece and proprietress of Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House Restaurant at the Jack Daniel Distillery located in Lynchburg. These menu items will use Tennessee ingredients, including Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Tolley, who is the author of four cookbooks, including her most recent, “Cookin’ with Jack,” will be demonstrating some of her award-winning recipes during the reception.

Chefs for the event include Holly Hambright, general manager of Nama, who is planning a trio sampler plate for the appetizer course; Peggy Hambright of Magpies Bakery, who is mirroring the appetizer course with a trio sampler dessert plate; Josh Feathers of Blackberry Farm who is offering the Farm’s Forever Roasted Pork Shoulder for the entree; and UT Gardens, which is custom growing greens for the salad course.

All items will be prepared by RHTM students with instruction and inspiration from the professional chefs.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,