Area Info / Bele Chere Festival 2009

Bele Chere Festival 2009

Now in its 31st year, Bele Chere is one of the largest street festivals in the Southeast. A 3-day event, there is something for everyone. Food, music, drinks, merchants, and so much more.

Bele Chere festivalgoers
photo by kelpazod
Bele Chere Jackson building
photo by BigAlTaz

Food, Beer, and Music

Asheville is already known for our great selection of local bars and restaurants. Not to mention the grand musical heritage that Western North Carolina is world-famous for. When Bele Chere comes to town, everything seems to kick into overdrive.

The festival is a great opportunity for local business owners to showcase themselves to the people of Asheville and over 275,000 other visitors. Between four stages, two food courts, and the multitude of vendors, there is something for everybody, and amusement galore.

There will certainly be no shortage of exceptional cuisine or beer at Bele Chere 2009. Local breweries and restaurants will be at their best around the Vance Monument at the Taste of Asheville Food Court. Over the past 10 years, Asheville has become a micro-brewing Mecca. Local breweries like Highland, Pisgah, French Broad, Green Man, Asheville Pizza and Brewing, Wedge, and Catawba Valley Brewing will be featured.

In years past, the food selection has included Greek, Mexican, Italian, Caribbean, Chinese, French, Indian and countless others. The Pritchard Park Food Court will include businesses like:

  • Al A Carte Foods
  • CoCo Bongos
  • D & J Concessions
  • Fired Up Kitchen
  • Hillbilly Funnel Cakes
  • Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
  • Hungry, Hungry, Hippies
  • J & D Enterprises
  • Leisure Time
  • Marco Enterprises
  • Mikey's Southern Snowballs
  • Morrie Mau
  • Paris Festival
  • Rainbow Food Productions
  • Sherri's Fun Foods
  • Smoothie Island
  • Spirit's Soft Serve
  • Stateline Catering
  • Steak Boys
  • Thai Town
  • Asian Grille

Bele Chere's music has always been one of its main allures. This year's musical lineup is blend of everything from Americana, Bluegrass, World and Reggae to Rock, Blues, Singer/Songwriter and more. This year, Bele Chere's music will be presented from four completely free stages scattered about downtown Asheville. The Rock'n'Kiss Stage will be located at the intersection of Coxe Ave. and Commerce Street. The US Cellular Stage will be positioned across from the Orange Peel on Biltmore Ave. There will also be a stage at Battery Park and another on Haywood Street near the Civic Center. (For proposed street closings and stage locations refer to the Bele Chere Footprint Map (PDF))

Friday's music will include headlining bands like Cracker, Freekbass, and Dar Williams. Cracker will be performing on the "Rock'n'Kiss" Stage at 8:15 PM to 9:45 PM, Freek Bass on the "US Cellular" Stage from 8:30 PM to 10:00 PM, and Dar Williams will be making an appearance on the Battery Park Stage from 8:00 PM - 9:30 PM.

Cracker includes long-time partners David Lowery and Johnny Hickman, 12-year Cracker drummer Frank Funaro and bassist Sal Maida (since 2006). Sure to bring Bele Chere a blend of new school vision and old-school swagger, they train a watchful eye on the current socio-musical landscape as they weave an eerie yet strangely soothing story of escapism, apocalypse, and renewal.
FreekBass includes Chip Wilson on drums, TSly on Guitar, Tobotius twisting the turntables, and lead singer/bassist Freekbass. Freekbass brings a funky groove that makes you want to dance with someone else. Guaranteed to be a bumping party, so be prepared to wear your boogie shoes in the streets of Asheville.
Dar Williams is a talented artist propelled by her beautifully clear voice and plain-spoken nature. Over the years, her music has mirrored her personal depth and growth. She is a talented story teller and pillar in the pop/folk genre of music.

Saturday's headliners bring us Colt Ford at 8:15 PM to 9:15 PM on the "US Cellular" Stage and The Old 97s on the "Battery Park" Stage from 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM.

Colt Ford is a contemporary country artist. He uses a blend of both hip-hop and classic country influences to create music that crosses boundaries and sets new limits. Colt Ford is a true innovator and entertainer.
The Old 97s are an incredibly consistent Indy rock band. They have only begun to realize their true potential after making music for 15 years. Rhett Miller, the band's lead singer and songwriter, works with guitarist Ken Bethea , drummer Philip Peeples, and bassist Murry Hammond.

Full weekend line up and performance times can be seen below.

Bele Chere 2009 Stage Schedule

Friday, July 24

Rock'n'Kiss Stage - Coxe Avenue
3:30 - 4:30 - Winner - Last Band Standing
5:00 - 6:00 - Nikki Talley
6:30 - 7:45 - The Dirty Guv'nahs
8:15 - 9:45 - Cracker
US Cellular Stage - Biltmore Avenue
5:00 - 6:15 - Tennessee Hollow
6:45 - 8:00 - The Afromotive
8:30 - 10:00 - Freekbass
Battery Park Stage
4:30 - 5:45 - The Hip Abduction
6:15 - 7:30 - Stephaniesid
8:00 - 9:30 - Dar Williams
Haywood Street Stage
4:30 - 6:00 - The Two Man Gentlemen Band
6:30 - 8:00 - Bull's Gap

Saturday, July 25

Rock’n’Kiss Stage - Coxe Avenue
12:30 - 2:00 - Bayou Diesel
2:30 - 4:00 - Fusebox Funk
4:30 - 6:00 - Charles Sayles
6:30 - 8:00 - Your Mama's Big Fat Booty Band 8:30 - 10:00 - TBA
US Cellular Stage - Biltmore Avenue
12:15 - 1:45 - Hot Politics
2:15 - 3:45 - Highly Kind
4:15 - 5:45 - Ras Allen
6:15 - 7:45 - Delta Moon
8:15 - 9:45 - Colt Ford
Battery Park Stage
Noon - 1:30 - Christabel and the Jons
2:00 - 3:30 - Mac Arnold & Plate Full O'Blues
4:00 - 5:30 - WSNB
6:00 - 7:30 - Drew Holcombe & the Neighbors
8:00 - 9:30 - Old 97s
Haywood Street Stage
12:15 - 1:45 - Laura Blackley Band
2:15 - 3:45 - GFE
4:15 - 5:45 - Sons of Ralph
6:30 - 8:00 - David Holt and the Lightning Bolts

Sunday, July 26

Rock’n’Kiss Stage - Coxe Avenue
12:15 - 1:45 - Carolina Gator Gumbo
2:15 - 3:45 - The Freddy Long Band
4:15 - 5:45 - Orleans
US Cellular Stage - Biltmore Avenue
12:15 - 1:30 - Skinny Legs & All
2:00 - 3:30 - One Leg Up
4:00 - 5:30 - Webb Wilder & the Beatnecks
Battery Park Stage
1:00 - 2:00 - Jonathan Scales Fourchestra
2:30 - 3:30 - Ian Moore and the Rib Tips
4:00 - 5:15 - Brother Joscephus & the Love Revival Revolution Orchestra
Haywood Street Stage
12:15 - 1:15 - Marsupials
1:45 - 3:15 - Balsam Range
3:45 - 5:15 - Chuck Brodsky

Drumming Tent Schedule

Bele Chere is pleased to partner with The Roots of Rhythm to present the Lexington Avenue Drumming Tent. Come and experience the sound and feel of drumming through a variety of performances and interactive sessions facilitated by Roots of Rhythm. The Drumming Tent will be located at the intersection of Walnut and Lexington Streets.

Friday, July 24, 2009

  • 3:00 - 4:00 pm - Drumming 101
  • 4:15 - 5:00 pm - Open Jam
  • 5:00 - 6:00 pm - West African Drumming
  • 6:15 - 7:00 pm - Performance by Wild Bodema
  • 7:00 - 7:45 pm - Open Jam
  • 8:00 - 10:00 pm - Community Drum Circle

Saturday, July 25, 2009

  • 1:00 - 1:45 pm - Kids Workshop - Food Lion Children's Area - Civic Center
  • 3:00 - 4:00 pm - Found Sounds
  • 4:15 - 5:00 pm - Open Jam
  • 5:00 - 6:00 pm - Performance by Zabumba!
  • 6:15 - 7:00 pm - Open Jam
  • 7:00 - 7:45 pm - Improv 101
  • 8:00 - 10:00 pm - Community Drum Circle

Sunday, July 26, 2008

  • 1:00 - 1:45 pm - Kids Drumming
  • 2:00 - 3:00 pm - Performance by Arundas
  • 3:30 - 4:30 pm - World Beats
  • 4:30 - 6:00 pm - Community Drum Circle

- Article by Louis Doneson


What is Bele Chere?
Bele Chere is a street festival with a wide variety of arts, music, food, beverages, events, and children's activities.

When is the festival?
Bele Chere is always the last FULL weekend in July. For 2009, the dates and hours are:

  • Friday, July 24 Noon to 10 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 25 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 26 Noon to 6 p.m.

Where exactly is Bele Chere?
In Asheville's central downtown business area.

Who produces Bele Chere?
The City of Asheville, with the Bele Chere Board of Directors.

What does Bele Chere mean?
Bele Chere means "beautiful living" and comes from an ancient Scottish dialect.

How do I get there?
You have a couple of options. You can drive to the festival or you can ride the Bele Chere Shuttle. If you drive, be aware parking is at a premium during peak times, but all the parking decks in the downtown area are open for business. The two shuttle routes - one from the east and one from the west - run approximately every 20 minutes and the cost is $3 round-trip.

If I drive, where can I park?
The City's parking decks remain open during the festival, but your access may be a little different than usual. There are also a number of surface lots around the perimeter that sell parking. In both cases, be aware that special event rates apply. Free handicapped parking is available at any metered parking space outside the festival boundaries.

Where can I catch the shuttle?
We always encourage festival-goers to use the festival shuttles. Each day, service begins one hour before the festival starts and runs until one hour past regular festival hours. Shuttles run approximately every 20 minutes. The cost is $3 round-trip. Shuttle information will be updated soon.

What if I need help once I get there?
Festival Information Booths are located at key intersections of the festival. Also, look for our roving "infotendants." They'll be on street corners and in other high traffic areas, wearing official Bele Chere shirts. Also look for festival staff and volunteers wearing shirts that say Area Manager, Board, or Staff. First Aid tents are located at Pritchard Park, the Children's Area (inside the Civic Center), and on Lexington near College Street.

Where can I get some extra cash?
ATMs are located at the following downtown locations:

  • Asheville Savings Bank - Patton Avenue at Arts Park
  • Bank of America - 162 College Street & 68 Patton Avenue
  • BB&T - 1 West Pack Square
  • First Citizens Bank - 108 Patton Avenue
  • Premier Credit Union - Haywood Street at the Civic Center
  • Wachovia - 1 Haywood Street

How can I find out what streets are going to be closed?
The city will post a Bele Chere Traffic Control Map on the official website as soon as it is confirmed.

Can I buy beer at Bele Chere?
Yes, but you must have a wristband to carry alcohol on the streets during Bele Chere. Be prepared to show your picture ID when buying alcohol as the wristband itself is not proof of age. Wristband colors change every day.

NOTE: Consumption of alcoholic beverages on the street is prohibited after 10 p.m. Friday & Saturday. SUNDAY IS ALCOHOL-FREE.

How do I get the wristband?
Wristbands can be purchased for $2 at booths located adjacent to beverage stations or from participating merchants. A wristband is not required to drink in Asheville's downtown pubs - only while drinking on the streets. And of course, a valid picture ID is required.

Can I bring my own cooler?
No, coolers are not allowed inside the festival area.

Can I bring my pet to the festival?
Sorry, pets are not allowed within the festival boundaries. We feel it's safer for all the festival goers AND the pets.

How long has Bele Chere been around?
Bele Chere started in 1979 and was located on a whopping three blocks of downtown Asheville. It was the brainstorm of a handful of downtown Asheville merchants and business people with the vision of revitalizing our downtown business district, which was largely abandoned as retail businesses & residents moved to the outskirts. Now, downtown Asheville is home to restaurants, galleries, retail businesses, theaters, art exhibits, and a growing number of residents who call downtown "home."

How many people attend Bele Chere?
Our most recent estimate is about 300,000 to 350,000 people over the three days of the festival.

Bele Chere 2008 Information | Bele Chere 2007 Information