Originally created 03/15/03

Crowd braves rain for Triple Crown street fair



AIKEN - Twelve-year-old Ashley Whisenant wrung out her socks after she stepped down from the inflated gladiator jousting ring.

Her mother wanted to throw the soaking socks away, but Ashley would have none of that.

The third annual Triple Crown street fair kicked off Aiken's biggest horsing event Friday night, even though cold rain kept many of the expected crowd elsewhere.

Because of the weather, about 1,000 people were expected to attend the street fair, said the event's organizer, Amanda Breeden.

That's about a fourth of the people who showed up last year, she said.

Some of the attendees came because they had bought advance tickets. Others said they came because they always had - rain or no rain.

Ashley, her brother Lucas and their mother came to the festival purely by chance.

"We drove by on the way back from the bowling alley, and they saw this and just had a cow," Aiken resident Sue Whisenant said.

"So what do you do?" she said with laugh.

Justin Wheelon and Eric Brown, sophomores at South Aiken High School, also tried their hand at the jousting game, where participants take swings at each other with padded sticks in a blown-up ring. Opponents try to knock each other off 1-foot-high pedestals into the air cushion below.

Justin said he came to the street fair despite the bad weather because he wanted to support Aiken and the Triple Crown races, which he has all his life.

"This is what Aiken is all about, and anyway, (the weather) isn't that bad," he said.

Sherry Thompson brought her son and her nephew to the festival because she didn't want the tickets she had bought in advance to go to waste.

"It would be nicer if it weren't drizzling, but I bet more people will be out here for the Tams. There are a lot of shaggers in Aiken," she said.

The Tams was one of the six musical acts in the lineup for the street fair this year. The group is known for its hit Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy.

Reach Sara Bancroft at (803) 279-6895 or sara.bancroft@augustachronicle.com.