Aiken residents gather for 80th running of the Aiken Trials

Mar. 18—The temperature may have been around 10 degrees cooler than normal but that didn't keep people from attending the 80th running of the Aiken Trials Saturday.

The main activity at the Aiken Training Track was tailgating. Generally people would enter the infield or outfield gates and make their way to one of several tailgating spots located along the inside and outside rail of the track.

Marley Davis had one of the best spots on Row 2 in the outfield. His spot was located next to an access point allowing people and cars to cross from the outfield to the infield.

He said he had been coming to the Aiken Trials for 45 years.

"We could have any of those [along the rail] but we picked right here by the paddock," Davis said. "You can be right here and enjoy yourself."

Also, the horses are brought right past the spot when they enter the track.

Steve Taylor and David Comer were setting up their spot on the outfield rail. Taylor said they had been in the same spot for over 30 years.

"My wife stood in line with a bunch of little kids to get these tickets," Taylor said. "Now those little kids are in their 40's. We've had a chance to move up but this spot's kind of special to us."

Linda Loving moved to Aiken about three years ago from Virginia and was looking forward to seeing horses pulling carriages. She said she used to work with carriage horses in Virginia but developed Lyme disease and could no longer work with the horses.

Lisa Benefiel and Laura Wilson were setting up a tent in Row 2 of the outfield.

Benefiel said she is a regular attendee but wished the weather would have been warmer for the races.

Wilson said her daughter would be riding Bonafide in one of the races.

Like at college football games, several tailgaters used their tents to express allegiance to their teams. In addition to South Carolina and Clemson, there were also Tennessee tents and Penn State tents.

Rich and Deborah Robbins were at the Penn State tent.

"Penn State is here representing," Deborah said.

Another similarity with college football tailgates were the activities around the tailgates. Many children were throwing footballs or kicking soccer balls. Others were playing cornhole.