|Genre||Music and arts street festival|
|Dates||Last weekend in July|
|Location(s)||Asheville, North Carolina|
|Founded by||City of Asheville|
Bele Chere was an annual music and arts street festival held in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. The festival was previously held annually on the last weekend in July since 1979. It was the largest free festival in the Southeastern United States, attracting over 350,000 people. The festival consisted of six stages scattered on various street corners in Asheville. A designated area called Arts Park typically featured several dozen regional artists and their work. Displayed art covered a variety of media types including painting, photography, pottery and jewelry. A variety of music genres were represented at the festival, including country, blues, folk, mountain, rock and jazz with both local and nationally known musicians represented. In 2013, the 35th annual Bele Chere festival was announced as the final festival by the City of Asheville.
A 2007 survey of businesses in downtown Asheville indicated that for more than 80% of respondents, the festival was bad for business, resulting in significant revenue declines during the days on which it is held. Two factors contributing to this were the large number of non-local vendors arriving for the event and the rise in vandalism during the festival. Despite this result, more than half felt that if the festival were to continue after 2007, it should remain where it is currently located. In 1979, the festival began as a way to bring needed revenue to downtown Asheville, which contained many vacant buildings and spaces; however, since the late 1970s the area has recovered and now is financially hurt by the event. The event is revenue neutral for the local government.citation applies to paragraph
The City Council on March 12, 2013, discussed ending the celebration to help close a $1.9 million deficit for the city, stating it would save the city $200,000 the following year. There was no opposition.
- Kiss, Tony (2007-07-27). "Asheville prepares for its biggest party". Local Events and Festivals. Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved 2007-08-11.[dead link]
- Todd, Mark (2007-07-15). "Bele Chere may have outlived its usefulness, business people say". Western Carolina Business Journal. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-08-11.
- "Bele Chere 2006 >> Home". Archived from the original on 2006-07-16. Retrieved 2006-07-15.
- Furr, Dean (2001). "www.soloii.com/reviews/2001b.html". North Carolina Autocross Championships. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-11.
- Hanrahan, Clare (2 August 2000). "Bele Chere restricts freedom of speech". Local News. Ashecroft Global Reporter. Archived from the original on 19 August 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
- "Bele Chere Emphasizes Local Creativity at Arts Park" (Press release). City of Asheville, Department of Parks and Recreation. 21 June 2007. Archived from the original on 12 August 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2007.