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Senior Extravaganza in Aiken a ‘great success’ for community

September 20, 2018

Hundreds of local residents headed to the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center on Wednesday for the 2018 Senior Extravaganza.

The annual extravaganza – this year being the 11th – featured a handful of educational classes, a 375-person catered luncheon and a sprawling resource fair for senior citizens with more than 80 vendors.

Vicki Pruitt, 60, spent Wednesday morning exploring the fair and speaking with vendors.

“I’m here trying to get more information,” Pruitt said, describing the crowded event as one-stop shopping.

Pruitt said she enjoys the extravaganza – she’s been to nine or 10 of them, she noted – because “you get to see a lot of people” and get answers to questions that might otherwise go unanswered or unasked.

“I do it every year,” Pruitt said.

Heather Brazell, a member of the event’s host committee, said that’s exactly what it’s about.

“Businesses can showcase how they can serve the elderly community,” Brazell said. “It isn’t just about death, dying and going to the hospital. … We’ve got people from every background, and that was the goal.”

In 2017, more than 32 percent of Aiken’s total population was 60 and older, according to a recent study conducted in part for the city. By 2022, 35 percent of the city’s estimated population, which will also expand, will be 60 and older, according to the same information.

About 18 percent of Aiken County residents are 65 and older, according to current estimates made by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Brazell said the extravaganza has grown year after year, and she deemed the self-sustaining idea a serious success. The fair’s energizing nature – getting people up and out and engaged – is a great thing to see, she added.

The Senior Extravaganza on average attracts 1,100 people, according to Brazell. Wednesday’s event was basically maxed out.

Aiken City Council member Dick Dewar, who was at the event early Wednesday morning, also described the entire get-together as successful. Dewar has been to all 11 Senior Extravaganzas.

“It’s a place where seniors can come and get answers,” Dewar said, essentially echoing Pruitt’s comments.

Businesses represented at the event included retirement and funeral homes, home and health care companies, retiree associations, pharmacies and even restaurants.

Dewar said the extravaganza is “great” for the city and its people.

“Just look at the crowds,” he said.

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