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Bele Chere Gets Back to Basics

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Bele Chere Festival

ASHEVILLE, NC – This year’s Bele Chere will certainly set a different tone than it has in recent memory. Over the years, the festival has grown beyond expectation, with some unforeseen consequences. Big name bands had headlined multiple stages with 25 dollar tickets, and last year the entertainment budget was nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Though the money was still pouring into downtown, Bele Chere had lost something that had made it unique to Asheville.

This year’s festivities will include fewer performers, shorter hours, and a greater emphasis on local bands and music. Despite the reductions, there are benefits to the truncated entertainment; it’s free. Not to mention, the budget will be less than half of what it was in 2008.

In an effort to redefine the festival, Asheville Parks and Recreation will be including 43 acts compared with last year’s 57. With a focus on local bands, including names like The Afromotive, Balsam Range, Sons of Ralph and David Holt and the Lightning Bolts, it would appear that the city is returning to the original mission of Bele Chere which was to promote local art and business. The festival will also be shutting down earlier, at 10 p.m., in an effort to coerce the crowds into downtown bars and restaurants.

The main stage on Lexington Ave. will become a drum circle. Two food courts will be set up. One at Pritchard Park and the Taste of Asheville will be setup around the Vance monument. The children’s area will be located in the Civic Center along the Senior’s Oasis in an effort to provide an air conditioned venue as well.

The line up is as follows:

Friday:

Winner of the Last Band Standing contest, Nikki Talley, The Dirty Guv’nahs, Tennessee Hollow, The Afromotive, The Hip Abduction, Stephaniesid, The Two Man Gentlemen Band, Bull’s Gap

Headliners – Cracker, Freekbass, Dar Williams

Saturday:

Bayou Diesel, Hot Politics, Christabel & the Jons, Laura Blackley Band
Fusebox Funk, Charles Sayles, Highly Kind, Ras Allen, Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues, WSNB, GFE, Sons of Ralph, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Delta Moon, Drew Holcombe & the Neighbors, David Holt & the Lightning Bolts.

Headliners – Colt Ford, Old 97’s.

Sunday:

Carolina Gator Gumbo, Skinny Legs & All, Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, Marsupials. Orleans, Webb Wilder & the Beatnecks, Brother Joscephus & the Love Revival Revolution Orchestra, Chuck Brodsky.

Folkmoot Celebrates 26 Years, July 16 – 26

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Folkmoot

ASHEVILLE, NC – Folkmoot USA, North Carolina’s Official International Festival, is a two-week celebration of the world’s cultural heritage through folk music and dance. Held each summer across the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, Folkmoot features performances, parades and workshops by more than 350 performers from a dozen or so countries.

Performers demonstrate cultural heritage through colorful, authentic and original reproduction costumes, lively dance and beautiful music. During its 25-year history, over 200 folk groups from more than 100 countries have shared their heritage and culture at Folkmoot USA.

Countries expected to perform in 2009 include India, Serbia, Greece, Netherlands, Romania, Mexico, Kenya, Spain and Israel (updated 6/11/09). This year’s Folkmoot Festival takes place throughout Western North Carolina in the towns of Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Maggie Valley, Canton, Clyde, Highlands, Bryson City, Cullowhee, Asheville, Columbus, Burnsville, Marion, Mars Hill, Flat Rock and Franklin.

Be sure to see the Folkmoot Festival Parade of Nations on Friday, July 17 at 1 pm and enjoy crafts and entertainment at International Festival Day on Saturday, July 25 from 10 am – 5 pm. Both events take place in downtown Waynesville.

The Folkmoot 5K Run/Walk and Kid’s Fun Run will take place on Saturday, July 18, at 8:00 am. Starting and ending at the Folkmoot Friendship Center, the 5K course is USATF Certified. Advance Registration: Adults $20; Children $8. Race Day Registration: Adults $25; Children $10. To register online, click on this link: http://www.setupevents.com To receive a registration form, call 828-452-2997 or stop by the Folkmoot Friendship Center. Hours are Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. (Open Saturday, 10 am – 3 pm in June & July and Sunday, 12 – 4 pm in July only.

Kids Visit Biltmore for Free All Summer

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Biltmore Esate

ASHEVILLE, NC – Biltmore Estate guests, ages 16 and younger, are admitted free with a paying adult all summer through September 7, 2009 making this a great time to plan a Biltmore family day-trip or summer vacation. America’s largest house and one of the most visited attractions in the United States, Biltmore House has approximately four acres of floor space filled with priceless treasures and antique furnishings from around the world.

In addition to the magnificent house, there are 8,000 or so acres of estate gardens and grounds where you can spend enjoying an array of activities for all ages.

Plenty of room for more pets at Asheville’s newest dog park

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007
Azalea Dog Park

Even after receiving good reviews from pet owners, the newest dog park in Asheville still isn’t drawing large crowds. On Saturday, December 22nd, not even half of the 140,000 ft.2 Azalea Dog Park was being utilized. Finished last summer, the Park is on Azalea Road by the Swannanoa River. The Park has two fenced-in areas, one for small dogs and the other for larger canines.

The Azalea Park is the second dog park in Asheville, with the first being the French Broad River Dog Park, located just off of Amboy Road on Asheville’s West side. The Park is open every day between 7:30-8:00am, and closes one hour before dark. All dog owners are to clean up after their pets and keep them on leashes unless they are inside one of the fenced areas. Aggressive animals’ owners are urged to retreat from the park with their pets immediately.

Even though the number of attendees is not up to the Parks & Recreation Department’s expectations, the assistant director of Asheville’s Parks and Recreation Department, Debbie Ivester, is not concerned:

“Because it’s so new, not everybody has heard about it yet,” she said. “We have a few ways to get the word out, and people are going to be picking up on it more and more.”

The Basilica of St. Lawrence houses oldest art in Asheville

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Under the great dome of the Basilica of St. Lawrence is the body of the man who built the historic structure as well as some priceless pieces of 17th century art.

Filled with works from Germany, Spain, Italy and many other places, much of the church’s art is at least a few hundred years old. Asheville is well-known for its art, and the Basilica of St. Lawrence contains some of Asheville’s oldest and most spectacular pieces.

Spanish architect & Asheville resident Rafael Guastavino, a famed architect/builder commissioned to help construct the Biltmore Estate, built the Basilica along with fellow architect R.S. Smith. Built in the Spanish Renaissance style using a method of design for which he was already famous, Guastavino liked embedding layers of flat tiles in strong mortar to create thin but surprisingly strong, arched vaults.

The Basilica of St. Lawrence’s dome is purported to be the largest unsupported dome in North America at 82 feet by 58 feet. There are no reinforcing beams in the structure.

In the Chapel of Our Lady (to the left of the main altar) stands a painting by the 17th century Italian painter Massimo Stanzione, above the door to the sacristy. "The Visitation" depicts Mary, mother of Jesus, talking with her cousin Elizabeth. Surrounding the sanctuary are stained-glass windows designed by Franz Mayer & Co. of Munich, Germany.

Former Tourists manager voted into Baseball Hall of Fame

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Former Asheville Tourists manager Billy Southworth has been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Completing the season with a record of 75-62, Southworth lead the Tourists to the Piedmont League (1920-1955) title in 1935. To win the championship, the team beat the Richmond Colts in the minor league playoffs four games to two.

Southworth is the second manager of the Asheville Tourists to be voted into the Hall at Cooperstown. Asheville’s other Hall of Fame Manager is Sparky Anderson, who managed the Tourists in 1968.

Manager of the early 1940s St. Louis Cardinals Dynasty, he managed 13 seasons in the Majors; including seven seasons over two different stints in St. Louis, KY. His teams grabbed three pennants and two World Series titles.

Said Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement issued to the press,

"On behalf of the entire St. Louis Cardinals organization, I would like to offer congratulations to the late Billy Southworth and his family and friends on his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame,"

Continuing his praise, Mr. DeWitt Jr. went on:

"Billy Southworth oversaw one of the greatest eras in Cardinals history and it is gratifying to see his career accomplishments recognized by the Veterans Committee."

Posting a winning 1044-744 record as a Major League manager, Southworth also won another pennant in 1948 while managing the Boston Braves. Billy Southworth passed away in 1969.

Actress Andie MacDowell to Speak at Asheville Film Festival

Friday, October 19th, 2007

Asheville local and prominent actress Andie MacDowell will speak on becoming successful in the film industry at a workshop sponsored by the Asheville Film Festival, from noon to 1pm on November 10th. The workshop is free and attendance is only limited by seating.

MacDowell has been a professional model and actress for over 20 years. Her films include Michael, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sex, Lies and Videotape and Groundhog Day with Bill Murray (one of our favorites!).

Also to do a workshop for the Asheville Film Festival is Don Mancini, the creator of the "Chucky" horror film franchise. Mancini will discuss becoming successful in writing and directing, with the workshop being be held from 1-2 pm on Nov. 9 in the Ritz Building, downtown Asheville.

Asheville Praised by The New York Times

Friday, October 12th, 2007

Asheville certainly impressed Staff Writer Chris Dixon of The New York Times. Below, read the introduction to his article 36 Hours in Asheville NC.

The New York Times, September 30, 2007

Asheville is an Appalachian Shangri-La. This year-round resort town, tucked between the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, draws a funky mix of New Agers, fleece-clad mountain bikers, antiques lovers and old-time farmers. And what’s there not to like? Charming yet surprisingly cosmopolitan for a town of about 73,000, Asheville has a Southern appeal all its own. There are lazy caf&eacutes and buzzing bistros, Art Deco skyscrapers and arcades reminiscent of Paris, kayaking and biodiesel cooperatives and one of the world’s largest private homes — the Biltmore Estate, a French Renaissance-style mansion with 250 rooms…”

Even though he is telling us Ashevillians what we already know, it wonderful to see our fair city getting some national press attention once again. If you’re interested, read the rest of the New York Times article.