Rosie Cassidy and Kenia Perry stood at the front of a very long line in Edgartown on Thursday evening. Dressed to the nines, they were waiting for 31st annual Taste of the Vineyard, or what Rosie calls “the best party on the Island.”

The line wound around the block as 900 ticket holding guests waited to enter the white tents next to the Old Whaling Church. Though the majority of people were in pastels, a few stood out in little black dresses, rockabilly style swing skirts and novelty printed suits. A group of men discussed the difficulty of tying a perfect bow tie. Josh Potter said when his tie was off-kilter in the past, the guys from Vineyard Vines helped him out.

Molly Levine and Paige Costa from Behind the Bookstore cafe. — Peter Simon

“That thing is looking crisp, right off a mannequin,” he said. Mr. Potter has been to Taste the Vineyard before, but only as a vendor. This was his first year waiting in line.

Taste of the Vineyard, affectionately known as The Taste, is the annual benefit where restaurants, caterers, drink makers and stores give visitors a bite or a sip in the name of charity. Hosted by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, approximately $150,000 was raised to support the preservation of 20 landmarks across the Island. These include the Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs, Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury, the Grange Hall in West Tisbury, and the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown among many others.

Trust executive director Chris Scott greeted visitors by name as they entered the tent. Over the 31 years, the event has grown and become synonymous with the start of the summer season.

“The first year it was more like a bake sale,” Mr. Scott remembered. “When we started selling tickets online, the first year it was sold out in a week to 10 days, the next year a half a week, last year one day, this year nine hours.”

All told, including both guests and vendors, the crowd on Thursday evening was approximately 1,500 people, either doling out or receiving (and sometimes both) some of the Vineyard’s best bites and sips.

Some of the vendors have been at the Taste since its bake sale days. Bill Smith’s Clambake has been at the event for 30 years. This year, stationed at one of the front tables, Mac and Roger Cook quickly spooned lobster salad on wheat bread to keep up with the flurry of hands reaching for a bite.

Chrystal Miskie, Jordon Wallace and Richie Garcia. — Peter Simon

Others, like Brian Thurber of Proud Pour, a wine company, were making their Taste debut. The company coordinated with the Martha's Vineyrad Shellfish Group, which was shucking oysters at an adjacent booth, so that every bottle sold of Proud Oyster supported the restoration of 100 oysters.

Looking around, Mr. Thurber proclaimed the Taste “great.”

“This is your first year?” a customer asked, holding out his wine glass to be filled with sauvignon blanc. “Wait until the temperature goes up, all the guys in sports coats are going to pass out. It’s the best show on the Island.”

Dee Smith, owner of Tea Lane Catering, also thought the event is quite a show.

“I love seeing the people and the dresses, and seeing people enjoying our food,” she said. Ms. Smith participates in the Taste to support the Preservation Trust’s work, but also finds it the perfect testing ground for new morsels. Eeach year she tries to add a new theme to her food. This year, Tea Lane Catering prepared a watermelon sushi.

Sultans of Swing gave the party its juice. — Peter Simon

“We got a new vacuum machine and we were playing around with it,” she said. “It makes the food absorb all these different flavors.”

The watermelon cubes sitting atop a black rice cake had been vacuumed with fish sauce, sweet Thai chili and lemon juice among other flavors. It was topped with a wasabi foam.

Marnque Allen from the Harbor View Hotel brought back a fan favorite from last year, which didn’t last long.

“Somebody has to take the last one,” she called out, holding out a tray that contained just one last mini lobster taco with sweet chili avocado.

A man reached over, snatching it up immediately.

Usually the Harbor View brings something new every year, Ms. Allen said. But the tacos were such a hit last year, they decided to bring them back again.

As the night continued people milled about, some walking from table to table in an orderly fashion filling their plates with bites, others popping in and out, stopping by one table to grab a crustini topped with white bean puree before crossing the tent to grab a freshly brewed blueberry beer.

And when the food ran out, the vendors abandoned their tables as guests and servers alike crowded onto the dance floor, shimmying away to the Sultans of Swing.