The 14th annual Antiques in the Heart of Aiken kicked off on Thursday night, and if Friday’s crowds were any indication, the show will remain what one dealer called the “mac daddy” of antique shows in the Southeast.

There wasn’t a parking space to be found along Laurens Street downtown Friday afternoon, and a steady stream of people made their way through the displays set up inside the Aiken Center for the Arts.

Inside, 22 dealers from Virginia to Texas had a variety of items up for display and purchase, from fine English, American and French silver and furniture, to estate jewelry, prints and oil paintings.

David Evan of Bachelor Hill Antiques in Walterboro had a 1958 Walker Executive golf cart set up at his booth, as well as a 7-foot-tall cigar store Indian.

“In and of itself, it’s kind of a novelty,” he said of the red golf cart, which has been fully restored and is still drivable. “The Walker Company only made golf carts for a couple of years. They were a lawn mower manufacturer.”

Evan said his store is known for carrying “crazy” stuff.

“We are a decidedly gentlemen-geared store,” he said. “It’s not your granny’s antique store. This is very typical of the kind of stuff I’m inclined to gravitate toward.”

Evan said he’s wanted a spot in the Aiken show “for ages,” and that this was his first year participating.

“Everybody wants to come to this show,” he said. “This is sort of the mac daddy of antique shows of the Southeast. It has a great reputation for real, high-quality dealers, and it has a great reputation for high-quality customers.”

Evan said being at the Aiken show could entice some people to make the two-hour trip to Walterboro to see more items in his store.

Barbara Kelly of Antique Gallery in Augusta, has had a booth in the show for eight years.

“It is one of the best shows in the South,” she said. “The people in Aiken are interesting, very different and they support Aiken. They absolutely love their town, and it shows.”

Kelly had a variety of items from 18th and 19th century England and France.

“What you can buy, you can be assured it’s the real thing,” she said. “I take pride in it being real and authentic.”

Sandra Terry, co-chairperson of the show, was pleased with the turnout on Friday afternoon.

“Saturday will be our biggest day,” she said.

Terry said the event usually has no less than 22 booths, and it always has a waiting list.

“We want people that can do a variety of things,” she said.

Peggy Richardson, of Arlington, Va., came to the show with a group of friends.

“A group of us are here in Ninety Six, and we’re here on a girls’ trip,” she said. “We’re staying in Ninety Six and there’s not a lot going on there, so we had to venture out.”

Allison Forehand, of Barnwell, purchased a few antique prints at the show Friday.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” she said, adding that this was her first time at the show. “I’ve been in this building before and I didn’t realize it would hold so many vendors. It’s very much worth the trip here.”

Jean Schwalbert, co-chairperson, said there’s plenty to do at the show, even for people who aren’t looking to buy.

“If you’re not a collector, there’s still so many beautiful things to see and so much history to learn,” she said. “These dealers know about their pieces.”

Restoration experts and silversmiths will be on hand in the Brooks Gallery on the second floor of the Center to provide estimates.

Today, Kathryn Greeley, author of “The Collected Tabletop,” will lead a discussion on her book. Tickets are $20 and include morning refreshments.

A special lecture will be offered in the Brown Pavilion today from 9 to 10 a.m. Tickets are $20 and include tea and scones.

The show will continue today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Tickets are $8.

The Sweetheart Cafe will be serving food each day of the show. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and drinks and desserts will be served from 2 to 4 p.m. today. Lunch on Sunday will be served from noon to 2 p.m.

For more information, call 641-9094.

Teddy Kulmala covers the crime beat for the Aiken Standard. He is a graduate of Clemson University and hails from Williston.