Aiken's Makin' new offerings

AIKEN --- More than 70 new vendors will set up shop this year during the 32nd annual Aiken's Makin' beginning today.

The two-day arts-and-crafts festival begins at 9 a.m. with a parade of Aiken business and community leaders and continues through Saturday afternoon.

This year, festival attendees will be treated to the creations of 72 new crafters whose booths will be filled with seasonal decorations and unique artwork, all handmade.

"There will be a lot of fresh faces and fresh art this year," said Dianne Phillips, director of finance and membership development with the Aiken Chamber of Commerce. "We're excited about the diversity it hopefully brings."

The chamber is expecting a festival turnout of about 30,000, but Heath Taylor with the chamber said, "I think we'll exceed that number" because of people along the coast fleeing Tropical Storm Hanna.

Those who do venture to Aiken for safe haven will find a party in progress with food, music and enough arts and crafts to satisfy any dÃcor.

More than 160 vendors will gather in the festival area on Park Avenue to hawk their wares to the discerning shopper in search of pottery, clothing, candles, jewelry, soaps and lotions.

Aiken's Makin' started with about a dozen vendors as a way to show off industry in Aiken. Since then, it has grown to include vendors from all over the Southeast, Mr. Taylor said.

"It is considered the premier arts and crafts event in the Southeast," he said.

Vendors are put through a rigorous application process with the festival committee. Along with an application, a potential vendor must submit a photograph of the merchandise. Everything sold at the show has to be handmade.

Festival attendees also will be treated to entertainment at both ends of the festival area and a food court area on York Street and Fairfield Avenue.

Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or michelle.guffey@augustachronicle.com