The veteran frontman swelled his goal tally to nine since joining the Valiants in January as promotion rivals Burton were battered 7-1 in League Two.
Vale's 1993/94 promotion-winning team were paraded at half-time and the celebratory mood among Vale Park's biggest crowd in 15 years, 10,978, increased as their team completed a stunning rout.
Hughes struck twice from the penalty spot after opening rampant Vale's account with a firm header.
"The first goal was what Lee does best," said Vale boss Adams. "He was in the right place. He might have got two penalties, but they've still got to be put away and he showed all his experience.
"The performance was fuelled by the supporters. When you see 11,000 fans in Vale Park like that it makes me realise whey I came to the club.
"And it was nice that the 1994 team were all here. That was a tribute to them.
"It was a special occasion, but it's still only three points. We picked up four points over Easter and coped with the pressure of games, but we're not there yet and there is still work to do."
Ben Williamson also grabbed a brace for Vale while Tom Pope, with his 32nd goal of the season, and Chris Birchall were on target as well, substitute Matt Paterson netting Burton's impressive consolation.