Christine Rolka likes to refer to the Aiken Horse Show, which will begin its three-day run Friday, as “Aiken’s Masters” because of its beautiful setting.

Augusta National, where the prestigious golf tournament is held, is known for its rolling hills, perfectly-manicured grass and colorful azaleas and other flowers.

The Horse Show’s site is Hitchcock Woods, which is one of the nation’s largest urban forests.

“Whether you are an equestrian or not, it’s worth coming out just to see the showground,” said Rolka, who is the executive director of the Hitchcock Woods Foundation. “Everything is starting to bloom, and spring is on display in all of its splendor.”

The competition will start at 9 a.m. each day.

For attendees who walk to the Horse Show, there will be no charge. But those who drive will be required to make a $10 donation to park, and they should use Hitchcock Woods’ South Boundary Avenue entrance.

Christine Rolka


Tickets for Picnic in the Woods, a catered lunch under the Horse Show’s big tent on Friday are $25 apiece.

The cost for Saturday’s catered lunch under the big tent is $75 per person.

Sunday’s Easter Brunch/Luncheon is sold out.

“People are welcome to bring their own picnics, and there also will be a food truck,” Rolka said.

The Horse Show is an Aiken tradition. It started in 1916 as a fundraiser for the Aiken Hospital and Relief Society.

Now it benefits the Hitchcock Woods Foundation.

The format for the Horse Show’s 102nd edition will be familiar to past participants and spectators, offering activities that are different every day.

Featured Friday will be “some of the premier riders and horses, so it will be pretty spectacular,” Rolka said.

Saturday is when many of the classes for youngsters will be held.

“It’s also when we will have our costume class, and that is always a lot of fun,” Rolka said. “We never know what to expect for that. There are always surprises.”

On Sunday, there will be classes for riders who are involved in the sport of fox hunting and their horses.

“It’s a chance to see up close, in the show ring, skills that typically are deployed out in the middle of the woods or across the countryside,” Rolka said.

Also Sunday, there will be an Easter egg hunt for children 10 years of age and younger.

“It’s hard to say the exact time because it depends on how fast the show is going, but it should be close to lunchtime,” said Show Director Dana Massey.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service in Columbia was calling for a 60 percent chance of precipitation Friday and sunny or mostly sunny skies on Saturday and Sunday.

If it does rain and there are questions about the Horse Show’s schedule, any changes made will be posted on the Hitchcock Woods Foundation’s Facebook page.

For more information about the Horse Show, visit

To purchase tickets to Picnic in the Woods on Friday's or Saturday’s catered lunch, call the Foundation’s office at 803-642-0528.

​Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.