The 38th annual Aiken’s Makin’ relies heavily on the combined safety and celebratory efforts of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce and its partnerships with the Aiken Department of Public Safety and a large group of volunteers.
The event will be held today and Saturday on Park Avenue downtown. The event will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Local officials offered tips on parking, safety and what to expect during the festivities.
Aiken Department of Public Safety Lt. Karl Odenthal offered several tips about parking, with the main emphasis being on legally parking where there’s room.
“Businesses that are open on those days will obviously want to use their lots for customers,” he said. “But closed businesses are usually good about letting people park. So, usually, it’s just wherever you can find a spot.”
Because of the closing of certain streets, such as the area of Park Avenue between Chesterfield and Union streets, Odenthal said drivers should prepare to take alternative routes.
In addition, there will not be northbound or southbound traffic on Fairfield, Union and York streets. One lane of eastbound through-traffic will be available to motorists.
Odenthal added that drivers also should expect traffic delays.
“We just want everyone to plan ahead for the traffic delays and remember to stay patient,” he said.
Aiken Public Safety will use 24-hour staff from tonight to Saturday evening after the end of the event.
Still, officers are encouraging attendees to take various precautions, including only walking with the necessities.
“We do see reports of lost or stolen items, so we encourage people to carry as few credit cards and other items as possible,” Odenthal said. “If it’s not necessary, it’s best not to carry. And, as always, be sure to lock your car doors.”
Odenthal also advised that adults and kids should have a plan in case friends and family get lost in the crowd. That plan, he said, could include agreeing beforehand to meet at a designated location.
Finally, Odenthal added that staying hydrated and knowing how your body reacts to heat is always important.
“We’ve had people pass out in the heat, so if your body doesn’t do well in heat, it may be best to come out in the mornings,” he said.
What to expect
Event Co-chairman John McMichael said visitors to Aiken’s Makin’ can expect the addition of 42 food and crafts vendors.
The Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce reported it received 235 applications for arts and crafts spaces, of which 180 were accepted. Twenty-three of 39 food vendors were accepted, according to Dianne Phillips, the Aiken chamber’s coordinator of Aiken’s Makin’.
McMichael said the group received a great response from vendors during the application process.
“Every year, we listen to feedback from vendors and attendees and then we tweak and improve where necessary,” he said. “As always, we were pleased with the overwhelming response to the application process, which, of course, made for some tough decisions by the jury.”
Chamber President and CEO David Jameson said the event is always interesting because over the past several years, about a third of the crafters have been new each year.
“The reputation of Aiken’s Makin’ is always attracting new applications,” Jameson said. “The show looks easy to the general public because of a years’ worth of planning, great volunteers, extraordinary partners, and a dedicated chamber, professional staff.”
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.
Staff photo by Teddy Kulmala Master Public Safety Officer Chad Cathcart, left, and Public Safety Officer Penny Schultz prepare to place “No Parking” signs along Park Avenue in preparation for Aiken’s Makin’, which begins today.×
Staff photo by Teddy Kulmala Master Cpl. Eugene Morris, left, and Master Public Safety Officer Chad Cathcart prepare to hang “No Parking” signs on Park Avenue in advance of Aiken’s Makin’, which begins today.×
Staff photo by Teddy Kulmala Cpl. Rick Brown puts up a “No Parking” sign on Park Avenue, which will be flooded this weekend for Aiken’s Makin’.×