SOUTHINGTON -Rainclouds couldn't scare away the hordes of hungry people who descended upon The Barnes Museum Thursday for the 17th Annual Taste of Southington.
Visitors went from booth to booth, loading up their plates with a variety of foods, ranging from the more exotic Japanese food from Sweet Mango to traditional pasta with meat sauce served by Catering with Chef Ralph.
As they sat under a sheltering tent to enjoy their food, singer Gregory Allen entertained with the crooning classics of Frank Sinatra.
Ideal Tavern was one of five restaurants that were new to the event this year. Bartender Patrick Iannotti and hostess Brianna Petta served up arancini rice balls.
"We're excited to be here today," said Iannotti. "We were just at the Italian Festival too serving seafood fritters. Events like this are a good opportunity for us and being involved in the community is high on our list of goals and priorities."
Ralph Secondo, owner of Catering by Chef Ralph, came to the event for the sixth year Thursday.
"It's a great hometown event," he said. "It's a nice, short three hour event where you can introduce yourself to the community without having to make as big of a commitment as the three-day Italian Festival."
Gale Zeil and her fiance Angelo Tedesco said that they have been coming to the Taste of Southington for five years in a row.
"We like to sample everything," said Zeil. "We look forward to trying new restaurants."
"The food is always great," said Tedesco.
Don Keller, who came to the Taste of Southington with his wife Judy, said that he has been coming every year since it started.
"I like that there is a good variety of food," said Don Keller.
Roberta Davenport and her husband Jeff Davenport have also been supporting the Taste of Southington since its inception.
"We live in town and we like to support the local restaurants," said Roberta Davenport. "Plus I don't have to cook tonight."
"We first moved in to our home on Queen Street 20 years ago," said Jeff Davenport. "Back then, I used to joke that nobody cooked at home in Southington - they were always dining out. Now, there are twice as many restaurants in town and that's more true than ever."
Among the visitors to the Taste of Southington this year was the Barnes Museum and Southington Public Library's new executive director, Kristi Sadowski, who made a point of introducing herself to other visitors.
"This is my first big town event and I've really been looking forward to it," she said. "So far, I've only been to Caffe del Mondo and I've got to learn what to eat for lunch."
Sadowski thanked museum curator Marie Secondo and caretaker Bonnie Plourde for doing an "incredible amount of work" to put the event together.
The Taste of Southington was sponsored by TD Bank. Participants included Caffe del Mondo, Craft Kitchen, Flair Restaurant, Ideal Tavern, Kettle Bagels, Catering by Chef Ralph, Paradise Pizza, Namaste India, Paul Gregory's Bistro, Smokin' with Chris and Sweet Mango.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.