Some people went to the 14th annual Taste of Magnolia event last Friday evening to spend time with their neighbors.
Some went to support the Magnolia Library Center.
Others went for the food and drinks.
Most people, however, went for all of those reasons combined.
"We're here gabbing, catching up," said Lynn McKenna, who has attended every Taste event at the Magnolia Library Center since she moved to the town in 2001. "It's like the lost art of village community living."
If village community living means gathering many people in a small space, McKenna was right. She was also right, if village community living means pitching in, sharing food, and sipping wine and beer.
Local vendors — including caterers, designers, and craftspeople — contributed goods and services to the raffle and auction, and some 20 restaurants and pubs also served food and drinks.
Though the restaurants were identified by distinct tables and signs, there was plenty of overlap from one table to another. Shannon Mount, for example, was working the Dog Bar table but stepped over to pour wine at the Passports table. Grier Grammas works as a bartender for Lobstaland but he was also pouring wines at the Causeway table.
"I'm here to do whatever needs to be done," Grammas said, summing up the general sentiment of "village community living" that McKenna referred to earlier in the evening.
Proceeds from the event go toward the maintenance and upkeep of the Magnolia Library Center. Last year, the event raised $8,000, according to Michele Brooks, president of the Magnolia Library; this year, organizers were shooting for a goal of $10,000 to $11,000.
The money will pay bills like heat and electricity to keep the Library open year-round, but the more immediate gratification came from the restaurants dishing out new menu items and pouring wines and beers from their lists.
Margot Rezza of The Patio, for example, served slices from their new menu of gourmet pizzas, which they've started featuring in the restaurant this week.
"People want thin-crust pizza these days," Rezza said. "So we decided to branch out and try some different pizzas." The new menu includes grilled shrimp and broccoli pizza and prosciutto and caramelized onion pizza.
The Patio's pizza wasn't the only new menu offering that night.
When he arrived at the Library Center earlier that evening, Chef Daniel Sherburne of Dog Bar may not have seen the Taste of Magnolia as a test-market for a new dish.
But it didn't take long before Sherburne realized that what he'd prepared for the festival — chicken braised with citrus, apricot pesto, and Moroccan-spiced pita chips — was the hit hors d'oeuvre of the night.
A new menu item was born.
"We're changing the menu in the next few weeks," Sherburne said. "The chicken is definitely going on, now that people say how much they like it."
Call it serendipity.
Call it a happy result of giving back to the community.
Or just call it delicious.
Anna Silveira of Gloucester, Victoria Mason of West Gloucester and Steven Dumas of Magnolia were immediate fans of the dish.
"We aren't even regular customers" of the Dog Bar, said Dumas. "We just tasted it and it was the best."
Cathy Huyghe is a regular Times columnist; a resident of Manchester-By-The-Sea, she also coordinates a web site, 365daysofwine.com, covering food and wine throughout the Boston area.