Year's first 5th Friday celebrated with BBQ cook-off, entertainment

Brian and Amy Daugherty fed Connor Daugherty his first chicken wings at Cookin' for Kids in the Newberry Festival Site Friday evening.

Downtown Aiken heated up as the sun went down Friday evening as two street festivals drew crowds to Newberry Street and The Alley. The Aiken Young Professionals organized the first 5th Friday celebration of the year from 6 to 10 p.m. at the intersection of The Alley and Bee Lane. "This is our second year doing 5th Friday but our third one; we did two last year," said former event chairman Jason Rabun. "We do it every month with a fifth Friday, and this year there's four - tonight, June 29, Aug. 31 and Nov. 30," said current event chairman Josh Booth. The Mighty McFly performed live on the Municipal Center's back patio, Aiken Balloon Creations Inc. did face painting and balloon animals, Franco the Mad Hatter of Magic gave a magic show, and children played with sidewalk chalk and inflatable castles while adults enjoyed food and drink specials from participating restaurants, including TakoSushi, Davor's Cafe, West Side Bowery, Soiree, the Aiken Brewing Company and Hotel Aiken. "It's a great, wonderful thing for the community to have something like this a few times a year, and, with the Young Professionals putting this on, it brings a lot of enthusiasm," said TakoSushi manager Otis Benton. On the Newberry Street Festival Site, the first stage of the Cookin' For Kids BBQ Cook-Off took place from 7 to 9 p.m. Spectators who bought an $8 wristband got samples of barbecue chicken wings from any or all of the 24 cooking teams taking part in the competition. Proceeds from the cook-off benefit the Child Advocacy Center. "I do barbecue cook-offs with Buckwheat's BBQ team. I like doing them, and the Child Advocacy Center is a really good organization, so I decided to do my own," said organizer DeWayne Jones. "This is the third year, and it has grown. It started out at Holley Tractor the first two years, and I think this year is going to be our biggest so far." "I came down because I love barbecue," said Evelyn Roby. "All the wings are delicious, but I have a favorite: the third booth from Park Avenue." The Cookin' For Kids BBQ Cook-Off continues from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today with the Boston butt, ribs and baked beans competitions. Admission to today's cook-off fun is $8; Boston butts will be on sale for $25. Suzanne Stone is a general assignment reporter at the Aiken Standard. She is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art & Design and studied communications at Augusta State University. She is a native of Augusta, Ga. She was a reporter for the North Augusta Star prior to joining the Aiken Standard staff. Contact Suzanne Stone at, or follow on Twitter at #SuzanneRStone and on Facebook at Suzanne Stone | Aiken Standard.