Horse lovers flock to annual 'big party'

AIKEN --- As horses meandered about awaiting their turn in Aiken's Hitchcock Woods, spectators marveled at an Aiken tradition.


"It's gorgeous," said Ken Campbell, holding a video camera to document family and friends who participated in Friday's event. "Everybody was nervous with all that rain."

Friday marked the first of three days of the 93rd annual Aiken Horse Show. Thursday's rain had cleared, and by 9 a.m. people were showing up, preparing for a day of equestrian events complete with concession stands, merchandise sales and a little tailgating.

Beth Epling, who was there to see her daughter Beth, 19, participate, said the show is an Aiken tradition.

"It's a big party," Ms. Epling said.

The starting time for today's event is 10 a.m. The show begins at 9 a.m. Sunday. Proceeds go toward protecting Hitchcock Woods, a 2,100-acre forest preserve owned and managed by the Hitchcock Woods Foundation.

The cost to attend one of this weekend's events is $10 per carload for parking inside the woods.

Randy Wolcott, a trustee with the foundation who was announcing riders Friday, said today's events will involve mostly children, and Sunday's attraction will be fox hunter horses.

"This is a wonderful family event," he said.

Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or


Headed from Augusta, take the Aiken-Augusta Highway into downtown Aiken. Take a right off Richland Avenue onto Laurens Street, then turn right onto South Boundary Avenue. That will lead to the entrance of Hitchcock Woods. Follow a dirt road until you reach the Memorial Gate tent.