Aiken’s claims to fame
You search for Aiken online, and nothing but local websites pull up.
It looks like on the surface, nobody outside the city limits has heard of what is often deemed “a small town.”
Broaden that search a bit, and you might be surprised.
Publications like Southern Living Magazine and The New York Times have been just a few to find and write about the many aspects this historical place has to offer, according to Elizabeth Harm, City tourism supervisor.
“We had a good year last year,” she said.
And a browse through the Visit Aiken SC Facebook page proves so.
South Carolina Living
Aiken is elegant, according to the title of the July article in South Carolina Living.
Diane Veto Parham went through and touched on Aiken’s trolley tours, Aiken Throughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum, Rose Hill Estate and La Dolce Bakery.
“The owners and staff at Rose Hill and The Stables Restaurant sincerely appreciate all press and publication coverage,” Stephen Mueller, co-owner, said. “Whenever Rose Hill’s (services) are covered in public print, we hear a lot of people express how glad they are to know more about Rose Hill. The business is truly an evolving phenomena; it has always grown since a guest’s last visit.”
The magazine also ran a “Web Extra” that featured The Willcox hotel, downtown Aiken, Hopelands Gardens and Hitchcock Woods.
“Aiken is a place that people from all over the world have connected to,” Judith Burgess, trolley tour guide, said to Parham. Burgess’ family roots have been planted into Aiken for centuries, according to the article.
South Carolina Living has reported on Aiken before.
In May Parham wrote “All aboard for Aiken” that spotlighted the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum. The trolley tours depart from the museum.
To view the July article, visit http://tinyurl.com/mm8x9ro.
Locally trained Palace Malice’s win at the Belmont Stakes on June 8 placed him on June 15’s cover of Blood-Horse Magazine.
Jack Shinar reported on Palace Malice’s feat against Oxbow, and the article appeared online on June 9.
“It’s just incredible. I feel like I’m floating, man,” the winning horse’s jockey Mike Smith said to the magazine. “I’m just in awe right now. The game plan was mapped out, and it really went to the game plan. We were laying third on the outside of Oxbow, like we wanted.”
Fellow writer Steve Haskin wrote about the competition in his blog titled “Haskin’s Belmont Recap: Malice in Wonderland.” Videos from the event are also available.
Dogwood Stables’ Cot Campbell is still in bliss over his horse’s landmark win.
“I love Aiken. In fact I love everything since I won the Belmont Stakes,” he said.
The magazine has ran other articles on Palace Malice, and a short biography on the bay colt is available on its website.
For more information, visit www.bloodhorse.com.
The New York Times
Leslie Knaue, who writes The New York Times Horse Racing Blog, visited Aiken in February.
“As a horsewoman, I find it nearly impossible to resist a community that has a 2,100-acre forest preserve – Hitchcock Woods – within the city’s limits … open to public use, particularly equestrians,” she wrote in her June 9 post.
Doug Rabold, the Hitchcock Woods Foundation executive director, has the forests commented on before.
“The Hitchcock Woods certainly is a source of pride for the entire community,” he said. “Whether they visit on foot, on horseback or in a carriage, guests will find the Woods a place of refuge and rejuvenation … It is always rewarding to see this unique community resource, along with its distinguished heritage, recognized in national publications.”
Though living in upstate New York, Knaue admits that she has “over the years, clipped several magazine articles about Aiken.”
During her visit, she drove through the “busy” Whiskey Road and “stunning” South Boundary Avenue and to spots like the “wonderful” Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum.
The title of the blog is “Aiken: A Special Place Where the Horse Rules.”
For those interested in viewing the article, visit http://tinyurl.com/kev33mj.
Doc Lawrence, a freelance writer from north Georgia, was only here for a short while in March, but Aiken left its impression.
“Aiken is one place I would recommend to those travelers looking for the best the South has to offer,” he said in an email. “It is livable, lively, friendly and just beautiful.”
His article took the reader through many aspects of Aiken from Rose Hill and Houndslake Guest House to the Red Pepper Cafe and Juilliard in Aiken festival.
It was published in the April issue of Flavors & more Magazine and a recent issue of Southwind Journeys.
“My article appeared in other parts of the country and foreign media as well,” Lawrence said. “I hope my warm feelings about your city and those who live and work there inspire others to visit and spend time in your special part of America.”
To view his article, visit http://tinyurl.com/mttelwt.
The Examiner, a website that sponsors freelance writers from around the nation, houses many articles on Aiken.
For example, Jill Becker wrote about her time visiting the Houndslake Guest House, Carriage House Inn and The Willcox.
“It really is from the hard work of everyone in our community that Aiken is getting recognized in the national spotlight,” Geoffrey Ellis, Willcox co-owner, said. “Aiken is a very special city, and people have been traveling to Aiken for over 100 years to see that for themselves.”
Becker grouped the hotels as places to stay during the Augusta National’s Masters Tournament Week. The article was posted on April 10.
To view it visit http://tinyurl.com/mbcmrrn.
The City of Aiken wanted to give something back to its Facebook fans, and it used Southern Living Magazine to help.
In the magazine’s March edition, an ad ran for a getaway package to Aiken.
The package included a stay at The Willcox, downtown dollars from the Aiken Downtown Development Association and two tickets for an Aiken Performing Arts Group show of the winner’s choice.
The winner was Karen Williams from Virginia, according to Harm.
Aiken was featured in Southern Living before.
In 2009, Taylor Bruce wrote about the equestrian life, restaurants like New Moon Cafe and overnight stays like Hotel Aiken.
Lifelong riders Ed and Leslie Giobbe remember being photographed and interviewed for the article.
Bruce describes them as spending “many twilight hours atop (their horses) Bravo and Timex.”
Bravo is now 30, Timex is now 28, according to Leslie.
“I was just riding Bravo this morning,” she said in a phone interview on Thursday. “Both are healthy and well and still part of the family.”
The City contributed to getting this word out about Aiken.
Back in March, Aiken worked with the state Parks, Recreation and Tourism staff to gather seven travel writers from around the Southeast and New York, the Aiken Standard reported.
Harm, via a recent interview, recalled the writers’ excitement.
While they were here, the writers “couldn’t put their pens down” as they spent a week exploring local restaurants and hotels and going to a Juilliard in Aiken jazz concert and on an Aiken County Historical Museum tour.
Harm hopes this is something that can continue.
“Bringing them here, showing them Aiken firsthand, is the best way they can write about it,” she said.
Lawrence was one of those writers.
For more information on publications that write about and happening around Aiken, visit the Visit Aiken SC Facebook.
Stephanie Turner has a hand on all areas of production for the Aiken Standard, where she reports, edits and designs pages. She graduated in July 2012 with a journalism degree from Valdosta State University and lives with her family in Evans, Ga.