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Derived from a Scottish Dialect, Bele Chere is a festival for “beautiful living� in downtown Asheville, NC, featuring Arts & Crafts, Entertainment, Food, Beverages, Special Events, and Summer Heat. The 34th festival was July 27-29, 2012.

We arrived the evening prior to the festival, with one intent being to enjoy a walking nighttime tour via Haunted Asheville (.com). So why the picture of a high rise?

Gargoyle’s aren’t ghosts. But they can be pretty creepy. And this guy seems to be saying, “Hey, if you should jump, it’s a looooooooooooooong way down there.”

Which is true. And perhaps this is why the folks of Asheville bow to functional art, as (far, far) below.

We met at 9:00 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge, a fitting enough place for those predisposed to spirits, conspiracies, secret histories, and whatever.

The ghost tour involved a 2 hour leisurely walk through the downtown area, with our guide, Brian Bloxom, intermixing local history with various, often entertaining, fates by unnatural causes.

This is one creepy building we discussed. Stay out of the back corner lest your desk be shaken. It was with some trepidation that a couple knocked on the door, reportedly an action that frequently begets a noisy response from within. No such luck for us. Doing this the night prior to the festival also allowed us to roam the streets without traffic. This outfit is highly recommended for those who enjoy history, good tales, and a very pleasant walk through the downtown area in the late evening. Those on your tour may provide equal entertainment to the leader. Brian did a great job. Though, this isn’t for everyone. The captured light flare may be a spirit. If that puts you at unease, stay off the moors.

The festival includes 3 days of music, on 4 stages in the downtown area. The first band I chose was the David Mayfield Parade. Curious name, but in that a “band” would suggest a musical focus and a “parade” reflects an entertaining show, it’s aptly named. Mayfield is gifted guitarist and even more of a ham, somersaulting onto the stage, posturing a la Freddie Mercury, and working his flab in a mating call of the extroverted. It’s entertainment, splendid entertainment. The problem is, I remember he sang well and had good songs, but those fade quickly, leaving only the images.

It all looks rather normal, here with Rebeka Jean.

Mayfield doesn’t really need two hands to play guitar. He uses one a lot.

A very enjoyable show, unexpectedly for different reasons than anticipated.

Ristorante Vincenzo, where Haunted Asheville tours and fine dining meet. In addition to tales of the dead being heaped into the basement following the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, today it stands as a really fine Italian restaurant – good food, good service, good price.

After dinner, it was time for Lucero, a MS based band that delivers straightforward rock, but with a sound and lyrics that appealed to their many fans – but not so much to me.

From art-deco to Queen Anne to I.M. Pei to Reniasance Revival to Romanesque Revival to … eh, if you like architecture, try Asheville. We know that the THE Flatiron Building is in NYC. Atlanta’s has a half shorter sized version that pre-dates that one by five years, sharing the same architect. Asheville has its own, as well, and sits as pretty as a picture. Or two.

Ah, early morning light. It’s, eh, why I got up early in the morning.

There’s an odd building with fairly elaborate limestone decorations. These are said to be faces of local residents, sculpted by an English artist who worked on the Biltmore House.

I was not the only person up early. Wandering my way around to locate Asheville Brewing for a later visit, I successfully sidestepped the approaching horde running the Bele Chere 5k. Volunteers were ready to either hand off cups of water or toss them as they ran by, per runner request. Kind of fun to watch, actually. Come to think of it, those would have been better pictures‌

Note to self. You found the place. Next time, go visit it and enjoy a brew. Sheesh.

(I did enjoy a Rocket Girl lager, a name which begs to be sampled, at a local restaurant) .

Some pictures are taken just to take pictures.

Alleys beg for a stroll, in the morning at least.

Shoes on telephone lines. The owner of Barley’s Taproom & Pizza, which back to this alley, happened to be removing some trash as I was photographing what may otherwise have been called, “What the hell.” Or, more literally, “Sneakers Hanging on Power Lines.” As he explained, this condition would normally represent two conditions. 1) A location where illegal drugs can be purchased (not, presumably early on a Saturday morning) or 2) a marker, of sorts, where gang members post their recognition for their first kill (presumed not to be fresh, Saturday morning kills, of course). As it turns out, it became a ritual that when his cooks quit, they toss their shoes over the line. Still, a helpful lesson in understanding urban landscapes.

Street Magician

Bubble Maker for Effect.

Each year, Ingles sponsors a dog jumping contest. Owners tease their dog, toss the ball in the pool, and the dog runs and tries to catch it. It’s entertaining. During the show, they offer “Raffle Tennis Balls” – 3 for $5. The emcee’s dog jumps in, and collects two balls, randomly, of course. My wife bought three as only about 30 people had purchased balls. Better odds. The dog picked not one but two of her balls (both in his mouth below), good for $50 at Ingles.

Come see me at Chicken Alley!

Larry Keel Band. Bluegrass. Light and breezy, but a literal breeze would have been appreciated.

She hula hooped without a care in the world.

Nearby, a completely alternate take of not having a care in the world.

And a hybrid version.

Then we get to Delta Rae, promoting their new album and by far the best music happening at Bele Chere. See for a fuller review of their show.

After a dinner break, we turn to Yo Mamas Big Fat Booty Band. If one of their flyers looks like this, what might the band be like?

Some MASSIVE sneakers, there.

And to accompany this funky groove, there was another hula hooper.

The Saturday night crowd was not as wild as might be expected. Desserts help.

And of course, the Soft Serve Chalice suggests a suitable opiate for the masses.

Sunday was a tame day, lighter in attendance and exuberance, as alcohol was not allowed on the streets. It stated with Boys From the Well, a local folk rock act.

The Boys in the Well might more aptly be The Boys Surrounded by Supportive Family and Friends. As they were.

Given the abundant in-your-face street preachers the day prior, this low key but public celebration of the Eucharist spoke a greater volume for people of faith.

The last artist we caught was Lyric, who could play any style but blended Joan Armatrading and Tracy Chapman pretty well.

And that’s a wrap! Thanks Asheville!

Bele Chere 2012  
Bele Chere 2012  

Photographs from the annual arts/crafts, music, and events festival in Asheville, NC.