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Step into the Wild West at Stafford Saloon, Where You’re Invited to Join us for a Captivating Dinner like No Other.

Leave behind the tumbleweeds of everyday life and saddle up for a night of delectable cuisine, community, and a journey through time. At this remarkable shindig, we’re serving up piping hot, freshly plated dishes that are sure to delight your taste buds. But the real treat is the opportunity to support our lucky students as they strive to knock your boots off with this amazing evening. Venture through the rustic barn and past the bustling market to immerse yourself in our captivating Western world. Witness history come to life as you step through the iconic saloon doors, ready to giddy on up for an unforgettable evening.

So, don your cowboy boots and prepare for an evening of delicious food, fun, and fundraising at Stafford Saloon!

Planned, prepared, and executed by an Executive Board of students from any major. Students participate in event planning through marketing, logistics, food and beverage, procurement, and other specialties.

Join Us On 2/24/24

Lasso on up to the western world of Stafford Saloon! Join us for our 49th annual Stafford Dinner on February 24th, 2024, at 5:00 pm (Saturday evening).

The Stafford Story

Mr. William D. Stafford was the first chairman of the Hotel, Restaurant & Resort Management Department at Northwood Institute. From 1969 to 1975, Mr. Stafford shared his knowledge about the hospitality industry and incorporated it into the curriculum. Stafford Dinner was created in memory of our founder. This night introduces students to hands-on skills and real work experience as they step out of the classroom and provide you, our guests, with an amazing evening. These students have planned, prepared and implemented this evening’s festivities for your enjoyment. We salute both Mr. William Stafford and Mrs. Ethel Stafford for their guidance, support and passion for both the industry and the students.

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Stafford Dinner Executive Board

Hailey Granata

Entertainment & Procurement Chair

Hailey Granata is a Hospitality Management major. In her third year attending, Hailey is on the MBA fast track and plans to wrap up her time at Northwood in 2025. Why Stafford Dinner? “I choose to be apart of Stafford Dinner to not only gain real world experience, but to also help Northwood students. I love knowing that the hard work I am doing is going to help someone. Stafford Dinner teaches us what it means to create an event from the ground up and gives us the opportunity to make connections with people and organizations that are both local and nonlocal.”

Nicolas Tolliver

Food & Beverage Chair

Nicolas Tolliver is a Hospitality Management major. In his third year attending, Nicolas plans to wrap up his time at Northwood in 2025. Why Stafford Dinner? “Growing up working at the family restaurant, I fell in love with the hospitality industry. For the past two years, Stafford Dinner has provided an opportunity for me to test my ability in a hospitality setting that was not in a restaurant. The ability to create a banquet dinner with a team is a great achievement when everyone walks away with a belly full and a smile on their face.”

Emily Upton

Service Chair

Emily Upton is a Hospitality Management major. In her third year, Emily plans to wrap up her time at Northwood in 2025. Why Stafford Dinner? “I am choosing to be apart of Stafford Dinner this year because I want to get real life experiences in an industry that I’m pursuing. I plan to work in event planning after graduation so being behind the scenes for Stafford Dinner gives me a good idea of what to expect and how to prepare.”

Mackenzie Carter

Marketing, PR, & Invitations Chair

Mackenzie Carter is a Marketing Communications major. In her third year attending, Mackenzie is on the MBA fast track and plans to wrap up her time at Northwood in 2025. Why Stafford Dinner? “I chose to be apart of Stafford Dinner this year because I wanted to gain new skills. This opportunity is unlike anything else that Northwood offers. Since I have been attending Northwood, it has been my plan to get involved in various events that offer me a different set of skills and knowledge. When the time of graduation comes, I can proudly say that I inherited a long and useful list of skills and knowledge from several of the different opportunities Northwood presents me with.”

Taylor Brown

Fundraising Chair

Taylor Brown is a Marketing major with a Marketing Communications minor. In her second year attending, Taylor plans to wrap up her time at Northwood in 2026. Why Stafford Dinner? “I chose Stafford Dinner because I really like being involved with events on campus. This event for me is just one more learning experience I can gain while at Northwood.”

Morgan Bryce

Decorations Chair

Morgan Bryce is a Hospitality management major. In her second year attending, Morgan is on the MBA fast track and plans to wrap up her time at Northwood in 2026. Why Stafford Dinner? “I chose to do Stafford Dinner to get real world experience in planning an event from start to finish since I plan to go into event coordinating after graduating from Northwood!”

Delanie Lucas

Registration Chair

Delanie Lucas is a Marketing major. In her second year attending, Delanie is on the MBA fast track and plans to wrap up her time at Northwood in 2026. Why Stafford Dinner? “I chose to participate in Stafford Dinner because it allows dedicated and ambitious students like me to work on something together from scratch- start to finish, which in itself is gratifying. Participating in a completely student ran event gives us a hands-on platform to develop event management skills, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility. I was always taught to give back whenever possible, having all of the proceeds go to student scholarships is really important to me.”

Karla Spaeth


Karla Spaeth is one of the advisors for this year’s Stafford Dinner. Karla has been in the hospitality industry since 1987 and started teaching in 2003. Why is Stafford dinner important? “Stafford dinner is an important hands-on experiential learning tool that allows students from inside or outside the curriculum to foster growth and experience in multiple skills set areas like critical thinking, leadership, team building, and brainstorming, just to recognize a few. This event provides a flexible structured opportunity to allow students the ability to foster their imagination and creativity while effectively producing and implementing an auspicious dining and entertainment experience for our guests.”

Nicholas Hamilton


Nicolas Hamilton is an Associate Professor and serves as Chair as the Hospitality Management department and is an alum from 2002. He has spent the previous eighteen years in various roles as Marriott International. Nicholas and his wife Kelly also own and operate Snowball Shaved Ice in the Great Lakes Bay region and beyond. Why is Stafford Dinner important? “The Stafford Dinner stands as a cornerstone of our program’s commitment to education. Spearheaded by out student, this event surpasses the typical fundraiser. It not only generates vital resources for student scholarships but also provides our students with a platform to demonstrate the practical skills they have honed under the guidance of their professors. In Essence, the Stafford Dinner not only empowers future scholars but also highlights the cooperative relationship between mentorship and student achievement within Northwood University.”

Laura Rhodes


Laura Rhodes is one of the advisors for this year’s Stafford Dinner. Laura is Director of Annual Giving at Northwood and is an Entrepreneurship and Hospitality Management alum from 2017. Laura has worked in the hospitality industry for almost 10 years. Why is Stafford Dinner important? “It’s been great to be back at Northwood and be involved with Stafford Dinner on the advisor side. I was involved in Stafford Dinner as a student and my experience on the board was some of the best real-world experience I was afforded at Northwood. Stafford also brought me some life-long friendships. I really enjoy being able to share my experience on the board with the current students and help guide them to create a wonderful event and learn skills in a hands-on environment.

Chef Casey Rae

Food & Beverage Advisor

Casey Rae is currently the executive chef at Northwood University. For over 20 years, he has been in the food service industry practicing French trained culinary ideas and trends. Over the years Casey has been recognized for his involvement in 5 star plated events and banquets. When Casey is not putting his culinary skills to work, he enjoys throwing darts and watching movies.

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