I found it curious that there was no mention of arts and crafts at Bele Chere in the recent Mountain Xpress [“Bele Chere Island, July 27 Xpress]. In years past, your paper has promoted the Arts Park of Bele Chere. This year, though, an out of town visitor picking up Xpress to read about offerings of Bele Chere would have no idea that there was an Arts Park, and that throughout the streets of the festival, there are juried arts and crafts booths, mixed with downtown merchant booths, including commercial and public-service booths.
We are local arts/crafts people, who make our living selling our work at juried art and crafts fairs. Fortunate to get juried in, we have exhibited our work at Bele Chere for numerous years. We prefer Haywood Street to the Arts Park, as our work is exhibited at Woolworth Walk year round. It would be great to see an article featuring local artists exhibiting outside the Arts Park in next year’s Bele Chere edition — at least some mention of original, handmade work that appears throughout Bele Chere would be greatly appreciated.
In addition, I have noticed a tendency among locals to disparage Bele Chere and focus on the negative aspects: the crowds, the drinking, rowdiness, the difficulty parking, etc. The Department of Parks and Recreation, city and business leaders in the community who work year round to put this festival on do a great job. We appreciate the dedication, organization and professionalism of the staff that work long hours to make this local event a success every year.
If you haven't come out to Bele Chere in recent years, I highly recommend it. This event is a real boon for our city. I talked with numerous folks who come from around the region every year to enjoy this wonderful Asheville event. I imagine the funds that come into the city at this time are a real support to our local economy.
— Barbara Boles