More than 500 people enjoyed free food while browsing at more than 20 town stores during the fifth Annual Taste of the Town Stroll, which helped restock the shelves of the New Canaan Food Pantry.

Crowds gathered around a table outside the New Canaan Playhouse Aug. 20 to pick up maps showing more than 20 participating businesses doling out free food and other giveaways. Participants who made a full circuit of 12 businesses were eligible for a drawing for prizes worth $25 and $150.

The night began with a five-way Lobster-Off in the pocket park at South Avenue at 5 p.m. judged by First Selectman Rob Mallozzi, Elm Restaurant Executive Chef Luke Venner, and New Canaan Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tucker Murphy.

In addition to a mountain of food donations, Murphy said participants purchased more than 166 pre-packaged bags of groceries at Walter Stewart’s Market and donated more than $500 to the effort to bolster the pantry’s stocks.

“We were really pleased with the weather,” Murphy said. “Everybody is just telling me it was a really great night to come back and see all your friends you haven’t seen all summer.”

A panel of judges for the lobster roll competition rated Cava’s entry by Chef Nube Siguenza the best of the five offered by local restaurants.

“The mixing of all the flavors is what really worked together,” Mallozzi said of the roll. “There were some flavors that worked pretty good together and others that worked great together.”

On Elm Street, downtown visitors crowded into New Canaan Olive Oil for wine and cheese and to look at the stores exhaustive inventory of flavored oils and other gourmet products, including gourmet sea salts, gourmet spices, and locally and regionally made jams and condiments.

The store, which opened two years ago, recently partnered with the Ridgefield-based shop 109 Cheese and Wine to sell gourmet cheese.

“We have people who come in the store during the event who haven’t been in before who get to see what we have to offer,” Burrows said. “We do a lot more to sell than olive oil.”

Patricia Sands, a town resident who took part in the stroll, said that the evening was a chance to relax and enjoy the downtown.

“It’s so nice to see the spirit of the community in an event like this,” Sands said.