Christmas often comes early when thousands flock to downtown Aiken to shop for creative crafts and eat flavorful foods at Aikenís Makiní. Local officials believe this yearís 38th annual event will be no different.


Aikenís Makiní will be held Sept. 5 through Sept. 6 on Park Avenue in downtown. On Sept. 5, the event will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; on Sept. 6, it will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Co-chair John McMichael met with nearly 60 other volunteers Tuesday at First Baptist Church to lay out a plan to make this yearís event a success.


McMichael said the board in charge of Aikenís Makiní tries to make the event a little different each year. This year, the biggest change will be the addition of 42 new vendors.


The Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce reported it received 235 applications for arts and crafts spaces, of which 180 were accepted. Twenty-three of 39 food vendors were accepted, according to Dianne Phillips, the Aiken Chamberís coordinator of Aikenís Makiní.


ďWe will definitely have a variety of arts and crafts, and plenty of food choices this year,Ē Phillips wrote on the event website. ďWe have great community partners who are our sponsors, and I can never say enough about our volunteers who do a phenomenal job.Ē


McMichael added that the group received a great response from vendors during the application process.


ďEvery year we listen to feedback from vendors and attendees, and then we tweak and improve where necessary,Ē he said. ďAs always, we were pleased with the overwhelming response to the application process, which, of course, made for some tough decisions by the jury.Ē


Craft vendors for this yearís event include Characters by Marina, offering paintings and figures sculpted in clay, and Flagman Productions, selling art prints of historic military and state flags.


Food vendors for the event will include Big Kevís Barbeque; Hillbilly Cafe with fish, chicken, shrimp, fries and funnel cake; and Tedís Street Food, which will be providing Philly cheese steak, Italian sausage, burgers, fries, chicken pitas and gyros.


ďThis is also a huge effort on the part of the City of Aiken and they always help out readily with no complaints,Ē McMichael said. ďWeíre always planning a year ahead to make Aikenís Makiní as fun, safe and entertaining as possible.Ē


For more information, visit www.aikensmakin.net.


Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.