Festival of the Woods, Festival of the Woods Family Day set for Sept. 20, Sept. 21, respectively 1

Attendees dine under a big tent in Hitchcock Woods during a past Festival of the Woods dinner.

The Hitchcock Woods Foundation is conducting two upcoming events that are designed to "celebrate the natural and cultural resources" of one of the nation's largest urban forests, said the organization's administrator, Joanne Gunnell.

The Festival of the Woods is scheduled for Sept. 20, and the Festival of the Woods Family Day will be held Sept. 21.

The site for both will be the Show Grounds in Hitchcock Woods. Vehicles will be allowed in the forest, which covers more than 2,000 acres, and they should enter through the South Boundary Avenue gate.

Festival of the Woods is a fundraiser for the foundation, which owns and manages Hitchcock Woods

It will begin at 6 p.m.

The wine bar will open at 6:30 p.m., and there will be music by guitarist Gavin Reily.

The Blue Marlin restaurant of Columbia will cater the dinner, which will be served at 7:30 p.m.

Dwayne Estes, executive director of the Southeastern Grasslands Initiative, will be the keynote speaker. The topic of his talk at 8:30 p.m. will be “The Southeastern Grasslands Initiative: 'Charting a New Course for Conservation in the 21st Century.'”

The honorary chairman for Festival of the Woods will be Barbara Morgan, former solicitor for South Carolina’s Second Judicial District for nearly 20 years and a former Rotary Club of Aiken president.

She serves on the Festival of the Woods’ planning committee.

Tickets for Festival of the Woods cost $75 each. In addition, tables with seating for eight are available for $600 apiece.

Casual attire is suggested.

For more information and to purchase tickets call the Hitchcock Woods Foundation office at 803-642-0528.

The Festival of the Woods Family Day is a free event that is open to the public. It will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Attendees are invited to pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic in Hitchcock Woods.

There will be 10 learning stations:

• Hitchcock Woods Artifacts, which will feature relics found in the forest.

• Archaeological Dig, a simulated excavation experience.

• History Uncovered, which will focus on the remnants of a railroad built in the 1800s that were found in Hitchcock Woods.

• The Aiken Hounds Legacy, which will offer the opportunity to meet foxhounds and learn about the heritage and traditions of fox hunting.

• Prescribed Burning in the Woods, which will provide information about how fire plays a positive role in nature.

• The Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, which will focus on the efforts to reintroduce the birds to Hitchcock Woods.

• Turtles in the Woods, which will explain how and why box turtles are tracked.

• Firewise Education Trailer, which will provide fire safety information.

• The Longleaf Alliance, which will offer the opportunity to meet Burner Bob, the ambassador for prescribed burning.

• Brush/Wildland Trucks, which will feature Hitchcock Woods, Aiken Department of Public Safety and South Carolina Forestry Commission Vehicles.

In addition, Aiken Ice Cream will be at Festival of the Woods Family Day.

​Dede Biles is the Aiken County government, business and horse industry reporter for the Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @DBethBiles.