GROTON – The doors opened at 5:30 p.m. but people arrived starting at 4:30 p.m. for the 15th annual Taste of Nashoba Valley Tuesday. Forty-three vendors assembled the The Stone Athletic Center on the campus of Lawrence Academy – and the fragrance of good food made the early waiting crowd impatient.

Madonna and Paul McKenzie were first timers from Westford. “We bought our tickets from the Westford Historical Society and we are really having a good time. The scallops and mashed from The Bull Run were amazing, we’re going for dinner soon!”

4-year old Lance McLean from Gardner wasn’t talking to anyone at his table. He was too busy eating the pumpkin whoopie pies from Bailey’s Bar & Grille.

Nashoba Park Assisted living impressed the hordes who came back for seconds of mascarpone and berry parfait and fresh-made lavender lemonade.

Coleman Catering and their new Main Street Cafe in Groton called Salt & Light, served giant dark chocolate truffles that were of Paris (France) quality. My sister Karen commented to the Colemans that the long table of truffles reminded her of that candy scene from I Love Lucy. Everyone laughed and ate another truffle.

This event was again sponsored by The Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Hilton Garden Inn, the Great American Grill, the SpringHill Suites by Marriott, and the Devens Common Center.

“Every year I get goosebumps when I see the fantastic vendors arriving and watch the transformation of the auditorium,” said Melissa Fetterhoff, president of the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The evening’s winners were: Best Appetizer Golden Girl Granola, Best Beverage Sunset Tiki Bar, Best Entree Nashoba Valley Tech HIgh-school, Best Dessert Coleman Catering, Best Presentation Bull Run Restaurant.

The Nashoba Valley Chamber is committed to the development of a strong jobs producing economy in its local communities Once again, the Taste Committee partnered with local non-profit organizations, offering those selected the opportunity to sell tickets while raising funds for their organization.This year there were nine local organizations including:

Ayer Business Alliance (at J&S Business Products, 17 Main Street, Ayer), Ayer Fire Department (at Ayer Fire Department, 1 West Main Street, Ayer), Ayer-Shirley Lions Club (contact Jen at North Middlesex Savings Bank, Shirley), Friends of the Lawrence Library (at Lawrence Library, 15 Main Street, Pepperell), Friends of the Reuben Hoar Library (at Reuben Hoar Library, 41 Shattuck Street, Littleton), Groton Fire Department (at Groton Fire Department, 99 Pleasant Street, Groton), Groton-Dunstable Booster Club, Westford Historical Society & Museum (at 2-4 Boston Road, Westford), Roudenbush Community Center (65 Main Street, Westford).

For each ticket they sold, the ticket partners received $5. For the past several years the Nashoba Valley Chamber has consistently given over $2,500 back to the community through this event.