Melissa Porter, festival coordinator for the city of Asheville, resigned her post Tuesday. Porter is perhaps best known as the city’s point person for Asheville’s massive annual summer street party, Bele Chere.
“I have enjoyed every moment of working with the city. I really want to thank the city of Asheville and the community and the volunteers I’ve worked with,” Porter said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “This was a difficult decision.”
Porter joined the city staff 10 years ago as an events assistant, and was promoted to event specialist and then festival coordinator. Porter said this is the fourth or fifth year that she’s worked as director of Bele Chere, a festival that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to Asheville and will celebrate its 30th anniversary next month. Porter said she wanted to work through the end of this year’s festival. Her last day will be July 27, the last day of Bele Chere.
Porter said she’s stepping down “to spend more time with my family. I have two small children and the festival is a lot of evening and weekend work and it’s just gotten to the point where I just need to focus on my family.”
Aside from the big summer party, Porter works in a department that permits and sponsors more than 100 other events, and she helped start the Asheville Film Festival. Porter said she hopes to stay in the event-planning business. “I’m looking to do some freelance work, some consulting work, possibly starting my own business. But right now, the focus is on my family,” she said.
The city will begin advertising for Porter’s replacement in the next couple of weeks, according to a city spokeswoman.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor