Originally created 09/13/98

Aiken's Makin' a success



AIKEN -- Wonderful weather and a steady stream of shoppers blessed Aiken's Makin' this year, the 22nd for the huge craft festival that draws artisans from several states.

A few crafters said this year's crowd was down, but others didn't think so.

Joe Penny of Augusta sold out of squirrel picnic feeders by midday Saturday and started taking orders, some of which will go to customers as far away as Texas and California, a sign of Aiken's Makin' broad appeal.

And Barbara Cox of Graniteville sold out of her train-engine mailboxes, but still had a few decorated like cows, pigs, fish and Dalmatians.

With an array of wares that ranged from $1 doodads to $800 quilts, a serious shopper or browser could spend hours making the rounds of tents beneath the massive shade trees over six blocks of the city's parkways.

Tom Slack's family did that Saturday, and he was in charge of what they already had bought while his wife perused Battenburg lace stitchery and two exhausted children sat on the grass.

There was a hand-crafted doll's bed for 5-year-old D.J. and a carved wooden boat that will double as a toy-car carrier for Elliot, 8, a Coca-Cola model plane and "assorted weapons," Mr. Slack said of the bag of toys.

"We come here every year," he said. "It always seems to coincide with pay day."

Phyllis Britt of Aiken had to dismantle her wrought-iron trellis to get it in the back of her station wagon. With a couple of decades of the festival under her belt, she said the trellis was different and a must-buy.

Phillip Hon of Signal Mountain, Tenn., who made it, hadn't lost his wry wit after two long days and steady sales of the heavy stuff that he frequently had to help customers load.

By late Saturday he couldn't recall how many people, leaning on the curved-top plant hangers they'd bought, he'd told, "Hey, I like that Charlton Heston look."

Aiken's Makin' is one of 48 craft shows his family does every year.

Susan Wike of Aiken carried a stash of stuff to her car, including a rusted iron pumpkin that caught her eye.

Terri Hupp of Zanesville, Ohio, made it and an array of other country items from a century-old barn that was being torn down.

Organizers from the Aiken Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the event every year, were pleased with the two-day event.

Although crowds were light Friday, Saturday picked up the slack. Among the vendors who did big business were the ones selling lemonade, spring water, other cold drinks and rainbow-colored Sno-cones.

Sam Erb, who heads the Downtown Development Council, said, "The weather has been super and the crowds have been great."

His restaurant, the West Side Bowery, gets a plaque this year, since one of his waiters, Michael Norton, won the waiter/waitress race. He got $300 and a trophy.

The race involves running an obstacle course with a tray, two full glasses and a candle, balanced on one hand.

Adam Price of the Red Lobster won $200 and the second-place trophy, and Jeremy Wilson of the New Moon Cafe came in third for $100 and a trophy.

Local celebrities whose professions are not waiting tables also ran the race for charity. Prize money from the event, which is sponsored by Security Federal, went to local charities of the winners' choice.