A dining and shopping event for a good cause: That's how the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce describes the upcoming Taste of the Town Stroll.
On Thursday, Aug. 21, more than 30 downtown businesses will open their doors to people looking for a snack, a beverage and a bargain. The price of participation is a donation of canned goods to the New Canaan Food Pantry.
"I think this is a perfect example of the business community and the community at large coming together to help stock the food pantry," said Laura Budd, the chamber's marketing associate.
Also called "an eating-drinking-shopping-fundraising extravaganza" -- or a "food-raiser" -- the fourth-annual stroll will take place from 6 to 9 p.m., with a rain date of Friday, Aug. 22.
The event also features several free activities and culinary delights that will be available at each of the participating venues throughout downtown.
Budd said there is a number of new businesses participating this year, many of which are new to town. Altogether, there will be 34 merchants and restaurants, up from 26 in 2013.
She noted that the event helps restaurants and stores gain exposure with potential new customers.
"Merchants really have a great time with it," Budd said. "A lot of new stores see it as a great way to introduce themselves to the community."
Instead of bringing canned goods, shoppers may also stop by Walter Stewart's Market, 229 Elm St., and purchase prepackaged bags for $15 or $25, which have a retail value of $25 and $40, and bring the receipt to the stroll.
One of the event's highlights includes a prize drawing that's scheduled for 9 p.m. in the Pop-Up Park. More than $6,500 in prizes will be given out, including a three-month membership to Oxygen Fitness Club, 22 Pine St.; sunglasses from SPECS of New Canaan, 17 South Ave.; and many gift certificates, including a $500 certificate for Ralph Lauren, 51 Elm St., or Ralph Lauren's Children's Store, 115 Elm St.
This year's grand prize is a weekly blow-dry at Le Boudoir beauty salon, 160 Main St., for one year.
For a chance to win prizes, shoppers must visit at least 12 of the stores on the stroll map or spend $200 or more at participating businesses that night. Shoppers do not have to be present at the drawing.
Specific items the New Canaan Food Pantry needs are coffee, herbal tea, canned fruit, peanut butter and jelly, dish and laundry soap, crackers and pasta. Donations can be dropped off at the stroll, but not before.
"We're planning a Taste of the Town Stroll event that will not only deliver needed supplies for the food pantry, but will provide engaging activities throughout our village, as merchants and restaurants work together to make this a really fun event," Tucker Murphy, the chamber's executive director, said in a news release.
The event takes place on Elm, Pine, Main and Forest streets and kicks off at three different locations -- the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, 91 Elm St.; Papyrus, 32 Elm St.; and Sara Campbell, a women's clothing store on 137 Elm St.
Additionally, Budd said the chamber would not have a Restaurant Week this year, especially because of the recently established New Canaan Taste Tours, which allows diners to try four restaurants in one night. The event, a partnership between the chamber and CT Bites, has been running every Tuesday and Wednesday since July 15 and will continue until Aug. 27.
Budd said the tours have been "widely successful" and have "sort of replaced" Restaurant Week. She added that the chamber plans to expand the event in the future.
"It's a great way for people to sample our restaurants," she said.
As for the upcoming stroll, which has drawn between 600 and 800 people in previous years, Budd said it's a way to bring the town together to interact with the businesses while supporting the New Canaan Food Pantry.
"It's a fun night. It's something that we're thrilled to do," she said. "And I think it really demonstrates New Canaan at its best: coming together for a great cause."
For more information, call the chamber office at 203-966-2004 or visit newcanaanchamber.com.
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