“We thank you for these woods saved for us by the impenitent wisdom of our forbearers,” read Rev. George Alexander, rector of All Saints Anglican Church in Aiken. “Bless us all, especially our hounds and our horses. Keep us safe in our communion with these woods.”

With this blessing on Thanksgiving Day 2014, Reverend George Alexander set in motion the 101st annual Blessing of the Hounds, a longstanding Aiken tradition now officially named the oldest drag hunt in the nation. Started by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hitchcock in 1914, the ceremony now takes place in Hitchcock Woods where attendees pay homage to foxhound traditions, Aiken’s own foxhound culture, and the hounds themselves that make the experience so incredible!

This tradition has evolved over the years, and what once began as a ceremony to begin hunting season has now grown to become an event for both hunters and animal lovers. No foxes are harmed in the blessing ceremony; instead, cloths are saturated with fox scent and used to mark scented trails. Once the trained hounds are released, onlookers cheer on the hounds dashing across the grounds!

Take a look below for photos of this year’s ceremony courtesy of Terry Henson, and for more information on events in Aiken worth planning your next trip around, check out our Aiken Events Calendar or call us today at 888-344-7009!