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Aiken’s Makin’ – a community ‘tradition’ – returns Sept. 7-8

September 2, 2018 GMT

For co-chair John McMichael, Aiken’s Makin’ is more than an event – it’s a tradition.

Nearly 175 artists, crafters and artisans from throughout the Southeast will display their work next weekend at the 42th-annual arts and crafts fair.

The two-day show, put on by the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday along Park Avenue in downtown Aiken.

“Families plan events around it. People have relatives who come from out of town to share the event with them. That’s what makes it so great,” McMichael said. “It’s also family friendly with a family atmosphere.”

McMichael, an Aiken native who has worked with Aiken’s Makin’ 10 years and been a co-chair for nine, said he’s gotten to know many of the vendors personally.

“It’s not uncommon to hear them say it’s their favorite event because of the atmosphere,” he said. “They say they love Aiken and they love the beauty of downtown, but overall, they say the guests who come to Aiken’s Makin’ are some of the friendliest they run into. You can’t say anything any nicer than that about a community that it’s welcoming and open, and it’s just a delight for them to be here.”

The show’s hand-made arts and crafts, featuring fine arts, glass works, wood, ceramics and fabric, “never disappoint,” said Amber Davis, a co-chair of the show for the Chamber and the hospice administrator for Trinity Hospice of Aiken.

“The jury that selects the vendors does a great job of bringing a selection to meet every style and price-point,” she said. “Aiken’s Makin’ is an event that I truly enjoy attending and helping to organize.”

This year’s Aiken’s Makin’ will feature 173 arts and crafts vendors, and about 35 percent of them were not at the 2017 show, said Dianne Phillips, the Chamber’s vice president of administration.

“A lot of great new talent is coming this year,” she said. “You may have thought you had seen everything, but the creativity these folks are bringing to the show this year is just amazing. They are as excited about coming as we are about having them here.”

Word-of-mouth from other vendors helps bring in new artisans each year, Phillips said.

“Vendors love our show. As they travel to other shows, they encourage other vendors they like and think would do well here to apply,” she said. “That’s how we get a lot of our new vendors. It keeps the show fresh.”

Jurors do not know which vendors have or have not participated in the show before and score each application based on submitted photographs, Phillips said.

“They do their best to determine whether someone is truly making their product,” she said.

Aiken’s Makin’ also will feature 21 food vendors. They will cook up a variety of tastes and treats, including everything from sausage dogs to gyros to kettle corn to funnel cakes with fresh-squeezed lemonade as a refreshing complement, according to the Aiken’s Makin’s website.

“Some great staples and fan favorites will also be returning to the show, and there may be a special food vendor present with a special beverage for those over the age of 21 to enjoy and cool down with,” Phillips said. “There is always something new in the air, and you just never know what you might find to purchase or eat or take in some entertainment.”

Volunteers already have started training for this year’s Aiken’s Makin’, Phillip said. About 100 volunteers help with the event.

“Aiken is such a giving community and has so many people who give of their own time and of themselves. They bring the hospitality to this event,” she said. “We couldn’t make Aiken’s Makin’ happen without community support.”

Davis agreed.

“Not only is it an event that brings so many people into our wonderful community, it is also an event that brings together so many volunteers that come back year after year to help make it a flawless event,” she said.

McMichael, the managing agent for the Anderson Insurance Agency, said Aiken’s Makin’ is an economic benefit to the entire community.

“We get so much support from our downtown businesses,” he said. “They reap the benefits of Aiken’s Makin’, too.”

For more information, visit www.aikensmakin.net.