Asheville City Council: We want a Bele Chere festival replacement; we don’t want to pay for it


Asheville City Council on Tuesday voted to send out a vague request for proposals asking folks to submit ideas for a new signature city festival to replace Bele Chere, the annual summer street  party of free music, fried food, topless women and shrieking street preachers. Earlier this year, City Council approved a budget that no longer funded the event, which cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars over the years but is widely regarded as being one catalyst for the rebirth of downtown Asheville.

Now City Council wants a new signature festival, one that it doesn’t want to pay for. Here’s how Mountain Xpress reporter David Forbes tweeted the City Council discussion regarding the request for a new festival proposal:

Next: starting process to evaluate interest in a late summer event to take place of Bele Chere, w less city involvement.

Bellamy questioning criteria for new event, doesn’t think process “fleshed out as it should be”

Vice Mayor Esther Manheimer: talked about criteria in Planning/Econ committee. Want to be broad because innovative idea out there

Hunt: also have concerns about expectations. Retail places downtown don’t want repeat of Bele Chere. City can’t bear same costs

Hunt: concerned criteria could drag us back to proposals that would have same level of “subsidy, overcrowding” as Bele Chere

Manheimer: don’t want to replicate Bele Chere. Want some new, exciting ideas.

Smith: if want new ideas, must be broad as possible. But want to monitor situation.

David: Great cities have great festivals. “A lot of good things happened at Bele Chere.” Drifted over years, but going to miss it.

Davis: I hope we can get something to replace Bele Chere. “I don’t want to see it get away” think a lot of us had a good time.

Davis: “bele chere wasn’t just about drinking and carousing”

Bellamy: don’t like broad criteria, could “skew the process.” Will oppose this.

Bellamy wants RFP. Manheimer doesn’t mind that. Bothwell: don’t see why we need act of Council to get ideas.

Bothwell: if bele chere was breaking even, wouldn’t be here, but it was getting a lot of taxpayer money.

Staff concerned that while RFP would be definite, Asheville’s a diverse city, prefer to go forward

request for information on festival to replace Bele Chere passes 6-1. Bellamy against.