AYNOR, SC (WMBF) – Saturday is the 26th Annual Aynor Harvest Hoedown. The population of the town is normally a little under 600 people, but Saturday, it will grow to around 26,000.
It is a huge event that brings a lot of people to the small town, and this years' event is bigger than ever. There are 190 arts and crafts, and food vendors opening setting up shop to sell their products- that's more than ever.
Organizer Phyllis Morrison says that's a good sign. The Hoedown is the biggest day of the year for the town of Aynor. Last year about 25 thousand people attended the festival. With more vendors, and live music all day starting at 11, Morrison believes even more people may attend this year.
She's even spoken with people that come from as far away as England. Vendors and visitors come back year after year, some even plan their vacations around the Hoedown.
Local groups rely on the revenue from the festival to last them through the year. "We try to reserve our food booths for Aynor area churches, clubs and civic organizations," Morrison says. "It gives them a chance to make money on that day. And a lot of them, that is their only fundraiser. They just wait and try to get their stuff together for Hoedown day."
With so many people coming to town the Aynor Police Department is getting a little help from other local agencies. They're going to be out on foot, on golf carts, on motorcycles and in police cruisers patrolling the streets and the ground to make sure everything goes smoothly.
"Basically have different agencies here from South Carolina Highway Patrol, Horry County Sheriff's Department, Horry County Police Department, and yourself Aynor Police Department," Christopher Thompson, K-9 Officer with Aynor Police Department says. "We usually try to have anywhere from about 30- 35 officers total at any given time here through out the day so it helps us out a lot here."
The Harvest Hoedown is known to be a family-friendly event. Police have to focus mostly keeping an eye on the crowds.
"The main issues we have here is foot traffic," Thompson says. "We're not used to having thousands and thousands of people throughout the year. This is the only day we have thousands of people. So we're trying to respond to different things that may be happening through out the day. Like foot traffic and other vehicles trying to get within the city is the main problem through out the whole day."
Since the town will be flooded with people, keeping them safe is the number one priority. So police are putting up barricades, and the entire square around Aynor park will be closed to cars.
"We actually block off the streets around the park," Morrison says. "That way they don't have to worry about any cars while they're shopping or looking or trying to get food."
If you're nervous about finding a spot to park, Morrison says there will be plenty of places close by on side streets so that won't be an issue.
You can view a full breakdown of details and events here: http://www.aynorharvesthoedown.org/