The fourth annual Aiken Barn Tour took place on Saturday, April 16. This tour, in which participants were invited to take a look inside some of Aiken's most beautiful barns, included eight properties, all of them located along Aiken's 302 equestrian corridor east of town. Barns on the tour included numerous private stables, all of them constructed within the past six or seven years, and all of them spectacular.
The tour started at 11 a.m., and for seven of the barns it was self-guided: people on the tour got a map and then drove themselves to the various properties. Many of the properties were quite close to each other. For instance, Peter Michaels's Quartermore Farm on Flowing Well Road was right across the street from Mary Guynn and Justin Pimnser's Dollamor, and right around the corner from Laura and Mike Regan's Evergreen Farm and the Hunt Box on Hickory Creek, owned by Jim and Gayle Curtiss. Other properties included Chequers, a lovely farm in Hatchaway Bridge Farms where Arthur and Sandy Vann breed Gypsy Vanner horses; Bridlewood, which is John Abbott's show hunter barn; and Windswept farm, a private dressage facility owned by Theresa and Pat Blewett.
The piäce de rÇsistance came at 2:30 with the guided tour of Crestview Farm on Cooks Bridge Road. This property, hidden behind massive electronic gates, includes barns, paddocks, pastures, polo fields, and pavilions, all custom-built to the highest standard and using unique materials. Although Crestview held the final game of the 2010 Silver Cup on its tournament field last fall, this was the first time that the public was invited to take a look at the barns. Visitors were impressed, to say the least.
After the guided tour, Crestview's president, Alan Meeker, put on an exhibition polo match on his field. This match featured numerous Aiken-based players, including Meeker himself, as well as several players who haven't spent much time in Aiken before, such as Carter Carnegie, who is the interim co-president and CEO of the Breeder's Cup, Ltd.
The barn tour got lucky with a sunny day and had a great turnout. All proceeds went to the Aiken SPCA, which is a nonprofit no-kill shelter. Just a few weeks after the barn tour, on May 19, the SPCA celebrated the groundbreaking of its new expanded facility, the Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. The facility new which will include the SPCA adoption center, an educational and training center and a regional spay and neuter clinic, is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2012.