Recently, while enjoying the best chicken ever, I remembered that the bowl it was roasted in was a Bele Chere purchase last year. It got me thinking about the recent developments concerning the festival.
My piece was created by an artist who designs pottery that is beautiful and functional. The utilitarian nature of the cookware needed explanation, and unfortunately the poor man’s booth was located right across from a street preacher with a bullhorn, arguing with some topless women.
Moments like this perfectly sum up why Bele Chere, in its current form, needs to go. As a downtown-business owner, I appreciate the role it played in creating Asheville as a destination, and I believe it still could. Instead of losing Bele Chere, let’s rebrand it to reflect current needs. July no longer needs an event to create business, but September does.
A new, smaller Bele Chere could be a paid event encompassing our current food and wine festival and incorporating great local artists and entertainers, specifically marketed to attract a more affluent customer.
In this way, Bele Chere lives on and benefits the downtown-merchant community it was originally intended to help.
— Steve Woolum