The theme for the Xpress coverage of this year’s Bele Chere festival was “Love it or Leave it.” I don’t think it will come as a shock to anyone that I am firmly in the “Leave it” camp. I sunburn easily, crowds make me nervous, I’m wary of the food, and I’m downright terrified of sweat-borne diseases.
Unfortunately for me, Bele Chere is where the photos are. The food, the music, the scantily-clad women, the scantily-clad men, the street preachers, the vendors, the performers. Because my weekend was full of other assignments, I packed it all in to one dehydrating photo safari on Friday afternoon. The results are here.
But let’s face it: Bele Chere photos all look the same—people wearing garish clothes (or a garish lack of clothes) confronting each other with some sort of intense emotion in blindly bright sun. Color, light, movement, chaos. I wanted to find pictures of the festival that would fit in the Argus. Where was the photographic counterpoint to this madness?
Reporter David Forbes tipped me off: The night before the festival, when the roads are closed, Asheville becomes a ghost-town. The streets are silent and populated only by empty tents and unlit signs. The only people moving about are city staff, the occasional vagrant, and grumpy photographers who don’t like getting up before dawn.
But the early hour is a small price to pay for a view of Bele Chere’s skeleton, a glimpse of the structure beneath all that sweaty meat.
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Other dispatches from the Asheville Argus:
Open letter to photo-phobes
The Midnight March
Cats and Dogs
The Lay of the Land
Merry Christmas from the Asheville Argus
Birds, Part II
Birds, Part I
Eyes on the Street
The Public Space
Collected Street Portraits
The Day it All Started
Fog on the Top Deck
Introducing the Asheville Argus