Aiken's Makin': Pardon our progress

The 34th Annual Aiken's Makin' is just 43 days away, and the checklists are ready for countdown to the September 10th and 11th event.  When the checkmark is made next to the words "Parkways Ready," many dedicated volunteers who work year round on the event will cheer.
 
Aiken's Makin' has experienced many changes through the years, and 2010 is no different.  This year there is a new challenge, and the Chamber and many volunteers are working with the City of Aiken to address the fact that the parkways are under construction, and the landscape along Park Avenue is changing. 
 
The revamping of the parkways will mean much better drainage of storm water and will help to solve a longstanding drainage issue that has impacted one of the City's historic jewels - Hitchcock Woods.
 
The good news is that, with some modifications, the Aiken's Makin' show will go on in its traditional location - in the same, beautiful parkways of downtown Aiken.
 
"The footprint of the festival will change somewhat, for safety and other reasons, but not the character and content of Aiken's Makin'.  The juried show will continue to be a fun arts and crafts event with many unique handcrafted items from around the Southeast," said Aiken's Makin' Co-chair Shelia Taylor, First Citizens Bank.
 
Taylor and Co-chair John McMichael, Hutson-Etherredge Companies, along with other committee members have worked closely with City of Aiken personnel - City Manager Roger LeDuc, Director of Public Works Larry Morris, Public Safety Chief Pete Frommer, and Public Safety Captain Wendell Hall - to determine the most feasible resolution for Aiken's Makin' layout while maintaining the annual show's integrity.
 
"We are collaborating with the Chamber on a new layout in conjunction with new underground water and electrical lines to better accommodate the event and to increase the enjoyment of both the crafters and community alike," said City Manager Roger LeDuc.
 
"The City is working to strengthen Aiken as a Green Community and has built bio-swales and rain gardens within the parkways along Park Avenue. These changes allow the Chamber and the City the opportunity to combine the new green elements while making improvements to the layout for Aiken's Makin'. We believe these changes will serve everyone both now and for years to come," LeDuc said.
 
"We've had a lot of productive meetings, and the collaboration among all parties involved has been terrific," said McMichael.  "Everyone has had a can-do attitude, and that has made the whole festival layout process run smoothly.
 
Many people were involved in the process, including local crafters who have been in Aiken's Makin' for several years, as well as Chamber President J. David Jameson and professional staff member Dianne Phillips.
 
"We invited 10 local crafters to walk the parkways first, which gave them an understanding of the challenges, and then we asked them to provide their suggestions for a solution," said Taylor.  "We took their suggestions into consideration and then came up with three different layout options."
 
The final layout of Aiken's Makin' includes using the parkways; no booths will be in the center of the parkways.  In addition, crafter booths will line both sides of the westbound section of Park Avenue, which means there will be no motorized westbound traffic in the festival area.  The location of food vendor booths will be the same - on the streets between the parkways.
 
"The good news is that in 43 days the 34th Annual Aiken's Makin' will kick off once again with a welcoming parade down Park Avenue.  And because of the tremendous collaboration of so many dedicated people, we're going to have another outstanding show," said Chamber President J. David Jameson.
 
For more information on Aiken's Makin', visit www.aikenchamber.net, and click on the Aiken's Makin' link under Community.
 
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