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On The Town 2012 - 2013

Aiken’s Makin’ •

Aiken’s Makin’ •


Crafty Business

Now in its 36th year, Aiken’s Makin’ is an eclectic kick-off of the fall festival season. From September 7-8, the shady parkways of downtown Aiken will be bustling with crafters and artisans from all over the Southeast, specializing in pottery, woodworking, furniture, baskets, stained glass, quilts, clothing, needlepoint, jewelry, ceramics, photography and more. Food has also become a staple at the event, with local restaurants showcasing their favorite dishes and festival vendors offering traditional goodies such as funnel cakes and cotton candy. Performances by dancers, vocalists and bands will round out the festivities.  9 a.m.-6 p.m. both days.

Life in Oil

Jane Popiel’s oil paintings have won numerous awards and appeared in juried shows throughout South Carolina. After studying art and architectural drafting and design, Popiel relocated to Aiken where she studied life drawing and watercolor under Augusta artist, the late Will Fahnoe, and oil painting and life drawing with professor Al Beyer at USC-Aiken. An exhibition of her work will be on display at the Aiken Center for the Arts September 1-30. or call (803) 641-9094.  

Philip Juras • Guest speaker at the Festival of the Woods.

Philip Juras • Guest speaker at the Festival of the Woods.


Festival in the Woods

The Festival of the Woods, September 28 and 29, is a new annual event that explores the variety of ways in which pedestrians and non-equestrians can enjoy Hitchcock Woods. It’s also a great way to learn about the Hitchcock Woods Foundation’s management and stewardship programs, which aim to help people experience the woods, its history and its resources with a sense of responsibility and deeper appreciation. Friday features a ticketed sunset dinner overlooking the historic Aiken Horse Show Grounds and a guest talk by naturalist and visual artist Philip Juras, a student of William Bartram and the pre-European-settlement landscapes of the Southeast. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tours, exhibits, family activities and a picnic lunch (available for purchase) are scheduled for Saturday. Admission to Saturday’s events is free. 10 a.m.-2  p.m. For more information, visit or call (803) 642-0528.

Pottery Perspectives

Billed as the largest pottery sale in Georgia, the 10th annual 2012 Perspectives: Georgia Pottery Invitational, September 1-19, offers 20 days of pottery sales, exhibits, studio tours and workshops. Rocket Hall in the charming community of Watkinsville, Ga., will feature more than 5,000 pieces of hand-made pottery produced by 50 of Georgia’s finest potters for sale. A preview party and sale are scheduled for the evening of August 31. For more details and schedule of events visit or call (807) 769-4565.

Rothko Meets South Carolina

Opening September 14, Mark Rothko: The Decisive Decade 1940-1950 will be on exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia. Featuring 37 works including paintings, watercolors and works on paper, this exhibition is largely drawn from the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It is the first significant exhibition of Rothko’s work to be on display in South Carolina. The exhibition will be on view through January 6. For details and related events visit


Music, Words, Dance, Film, Visual

The 5th Annual Westobou Festival, October 3-7,  is a five-day celebration of fine and performing art, featuring dance, theater, visual arts, film, spoken word and music performances. Events take place at venues on both sides of the Savannah with the festival centered at the Old Richmond Academy in downtown Augusta. For a complete schedule of events visit

Feisty Flamenco

The Aiken Performing Arts Group (APAG) comes strong out of the gate in its 2012-2013 season with Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater October 11 and 12. Known for their quicksilver choreography pulsating with fiery romance, the Chicago-based dance company performs original Spanish classical ballets, folkloric suites and feisty flamenco dramas. This is ensemble genius at its most transcendent, taking the audience beyond geographic boundaries to experience true emotion in motion. 8 p.m. URS Center for the Performing Arts. (803) 643-4774.

ensemble espanol spanish dance theater WWW.APAGONLINE.ORG

Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater. •


Literati’s Delight

On October 23, author Stephen Graham Jones takes the main stage at the USC-Aiken Etherredge Center as part of the 2012-2013 James and Mary Oswald Distinguished Writers Series. A native of West Texas, Jones is a major contributor to contemporary Native American literature, penning more than a dozen novels and 130 short stories. His most notable titles include The Fast Red Road: A Plainsong, All the Beautiful Sinners and Ledfeather. Jones will read excerpts of his work, offer insight into his life as a writer and take questions from the audience. Book sales and signing after the event.
8 p.m. (803) 641-3305.

Up and Over

The tradition of steeplechasing continues in Aiken with the 21st running of the Aiken Fall Steeplechase on October 27. The highly-anticipated sporting and social event features six steeplechase races, a carriage parade, the Village of Shops, guarantor tent party and some of the best tailgating opportunities around. Fall gala October 26. Call (803) 648-9641 for tickets. October 27, gates open at 9:30 a.m. Ford Conger Field. Visit for more information.

Aiken Steeplechase

Aiken Steeplechasing •



Mutts and Music

Pet lovers unite at the annual Woofstock Mutts and Music Festival sponsored by the Aiken County Friends of the Animal Shelter (FOTAS) to promote and celebrate responsible pet ownership. The event promises a tail-wagging fun schedule, which features a “mutt strut” parade, dog contests, demonstrations, raffles and a mini-dog strut parade
for physically challenged pooches. Funds will go toward replacing the outdated and overloaded Aiken County animal shelter. November 10. 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Highfields Event Center.

Feast for All People

A unique event made possible by local churches, sponsors and dedicated volunteers, One Table on November 22 is a full, traditional Thanksgiving feast served—at no charge—in The Alley in downtown Aiken. Gather with old friends and meet new ones around a banquet of turkey (baked, grilled, smoked and fried), dressing, sweet potatoes, green beans, rice and gravy, cranberry sauce and more. Live music provided by local churches.

Blessing of the Hounds

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving in Aiken without the annual Blessing of the Hounds, November 22, a traditional ceremony held in Hitchcock Woods. The public is invited to gather as a priest blesses the hounds, horses and riders before a drag hunt, where the hounds follow a scented trail. 11 a.m. Memorial Gate in Hitchcock Woods. There is no parking at the South Boundary entrance, but attendees can park downtown. Allow 30 minutes to walk from Laurens Street to Memorial Gate. No motorized vehicles or dogs are permitted in the woods for this event. For more information, visit or call (803) 642-0528.   

Christmas Miracle

One of the most endearing stories of the holidays is brought to life this year by the Aiken Community Playhouse. The star of Miracle on 34th Street, Kris Kringle is a kind, older gentleman with an authentic white beard working as a Macy’s Santa…or is he the real Santa Claus? As he sets about to convince a divorced, cynical single mother and her daughter that Santa is no myth, he spreads love and goodwill throughout all of New York City. November 23, 24, 30 and December 1, 7, 8 at 8 p.m. December 1-2 at 3 p.m. Interpreted for the deaf and hearing impaired, November 24 at 8 p.m. Aiken Community Playhouse. (803) 648-1438.


The Nutcracker

Celebrate the season as the Aiken Civic Ballet performs The Nutcracker, a magical masterpiece combining the elements of a great story, colorful costumes and unforgettable music. Under the artistic direction of Diane Toole Miller, The Nutcracker comes to life in its traditional beauty and is truly a production the entire family will enjoy. December 7-9. USC-Aiken Etherredge Center. Call (803) 648-5771 or visit


Aiken Civic Ballet • The Nutcracker •


December Pops!

On December 15 don’t miss this performance as trumpet player Joe Gransden takes the stage at USC-Aiken’s Etherredge Center. Renowned for his hard bop approach  to trumpet and a singing voice that has been compared to that of Chet Baker and Frank Sinatra, his  early jazz influences include Kenny Dorham and Miles Davis. 8 p.m.

Lights Galore!

Hopelands Gardens is spectacular during all four seasons—yes, even winter. In fact, it’s during this time of year that the gardens turn most whimsical, with lighted holiday displays and pathways creating the cheerful fantasy land that is Christmas in Hopelands Gardens. The winding walk-through exhibit features thousands of lights and more than a mile of illuminated bliss. Special events will also take place each evening. December 13-23, and December 26-27. 6-9:30 p.m.


Hopelands Garden Holiday Lights Display •



Absolutely Antiques

Find that unique heirloom to accent your decor or special item to complete your collection at the annual Antiques in the Heart of Aiken, benefitting the Aiken Center for the Arts. Twenty-three specialized dealers from across the nation offer for sell fine antiques including lace and linens, silver, porcelain, paintings and prints, crystal, jewelry, rugs and furnishings. Experts will be onhand to evaluate and provide free estimates of your broken or damaged treasures. During the show, the Sweetheart Café will offer signature soups, salads, sandwiches, daily specials and desserts. For a sneak peak and early purchasing opportunity don’t miss the preview party, complete with cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres and live music. Preview party, January 31. Show and sale, February 1-3. Aiken Center for the Arts. (803) 641-9094 or visit


Birdland With a Twist

The Birdland Big Band will perform on February 8 at the USC-Aiken Etherredge Center as part of the university’s cultural series. Directed by Tommy Igoe, one of the world’s greatest drummers, the band is comprised of some of New York’s finest musicians in a performance designed to recreate the ambiance of a night at the Birdland Jazz Club in Manhattan. It’s large-ensemble jazz for the 21st century, arranged to captivate the audience with a new kind of musical experience. For tickets, call the Etherredge Center box office at (803) 641-3305. Visit for more information about the band.  


Birdland Big Band •


Reflections on Water

Opening February 10, Reflections on Water in American Painting, an exhibition at the Morris Museum of Art, features 50 paintings from the Arthur J. Phelan Collection that traces more than a century of America’s maritime and seaside history from 1828 to 1945. On exhibit until February 10.

Heritage Alive

On February 22-24, experience life as  a Civil War soldier during the 18th annual reenactment of the Battle of Aiken, which was the last victory for the Confederacy in the War Between the States. The event features not only reenactments of the battle but also authentic portrayals of the difficult living conditions for the soldiers of 1865. A period medical unit will 76 be set up to demonstrate how surgeries and other medical duties were performed. Other living history exhibits, and period dancing and music round out the event. All net proceeds benefit historic preservation efforts in South Carolina. Gates open at 8:30 a.m. every day. Confederate Memorial Park. 1210 Powell Pond Rd. (Exit 18, I-20). Visit for daily schedules and ticket information. 

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