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CS+TSE 2024: Going Hog Wild

Catersource + The Special Event’s Opening Night Party brought together food, entertainment, and décor under one roof

Attendees to this year’s Catersource + The Special Event (see the spring issue of Catersource magazine for the trends seen during this year’s event) found themselves smack dab in the middle of the wild west during the Opening Night Party, which was described as “a mysterious pop-up bar experience” in the heart of Texas.

This year’s Opening Night Party was held at Brazos Hall and attendees celebrated with a Neon Spur event theme.

The Opening Night Party encapsulated the theme of “Neon Spur” around every corner: neon-clad cowboys, Texas treats (provided in collaboration by a total of nine caterers) that made everyone’s taste buds dance, and décor that brought it all together. Attendees themselves were even part of the ambiance by donning their best “cowboy chic.”

“When there’s a theme, everyone is coming in costume now,” said David Merrell (AOO Events) during his annual trends session presented during Catersource + The Special Event. “It creates a sense of community and inclusivity.”

Whimsical themed take-home cups were a huge hit during the event. Attendees flocked to servers whenever they hit the floor to grab a memento to bring home.

Not only did the Neon Spur tap into the growing popularity of theme events (see the spring issue of Special Events magazine for more on theme events), but it also embraced the emerging trend of “mixed themes” (as predicted by Kristin Banta in her session Design to Impact in 2024) by bringing two seemingly opposite themes together in a cohesive way. “

A third of consumers prefer a theme for their events,” said Banta, “so the more unique, the better.” Here’s a look back at a truly rootin’-tootin’ celebration. 

All photos courtesy Dana Gibbons Photography/AGNYC Productions, Inc., unless otherwise noted

Vestals Catering tapped into the suspended bacon trend by hanging their thick-cut bacon up to cool.

Pimento cheese savory shortbread wafers with cowboy candy from Austin Catering.

Warm sugar butter brushed buttermilk biscuits with gochujang-glazed thick cut bacon with whipped Boursin cheese and blueberry thyme jam from Vestals Catering

A freshly shucked street corn cup from Urban Cowboy Catering

Felicetti served BBQ Brisket Mac & Cheese as well as a dessert cannoli.

Mexican street corn served over a corn pancake with lime, tajin, and micro cilantro from Contigo Catering

Atttendees in their best western gear pose in front of Paintillio’s interactive mural.

Water in aluminum cans are a great recyclable alternative to plastic bottles.

Everyone loves a good photo op. Attendees could pose throughout the night with a cardboard cutout of Matthew McConaughey.

Shrimp campechana (Gulf Coast shrimp, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, and avocado) was served with a tortilla chip from Y Comida.

A true southern classic: corn bread muffins served with honey butter.

Vestals Catering incorporated neon colors into their station design as a way to bring the event’s Neon Spur theme to life.

Check Out More From Catersource + The Special Event

We've been reliving all of the excitement from Catersource + The Special Event ever since we got back from Austin, TX in February. Did you miss any of our coverage, or are you just looking for a refresher on what we experienced? Check out all of our post-event coverage at the following links: 

Amber Kispert

Senior Content Producer

Amber is the Senior Content Producer for Catersource. Amber previously worked as a Communications Specialist for LeClair Group and a reporter for the Woodbury Bulletin, both located in Woodbury, Minn.  As a self-described "foodie," Amber loves to experience the world of food and beverages, and is excited to help share the stories of Catersource and the world's caterers.