Bele Chere 2011 – Asheville North Carolina’s largest street partyl! Over 30,000 people attended the 33rd annual festival in downtown Asheville. The Pennie Tour visited the festival once again and found lots of fun people, interesting sites, and some great bands!
Bele Chere comes from the old Scottish dialect meaning “beautiful living”. Pennie Tour once again enjoyed beautiful living by experiencing Bele Chere’s art, food, drum circle, street performers, street vendors and our favorite – the bands! The hard part was picking which music venue. There were 4 stages to choose from – situated throughout downtown Asheville and all within walking distance! Over 40 Bands played continuously throughout the day and into the night!
A Pennie Tour favorite – The Whigs – put on a fantastic show! The Whigs are a trio of artists that tout themselves as being an American garage rock band. The Whigs, from Athens, Georgia were named one of the 10 artists to watch by Rolling Stone in 2006.
Bele Chere offers a unique opportunity to see, taste, hear and experience the finest that Asheville, North Carolina has to offer. The local restaurants offer a “Foodtopia” farm to table experience. No time for sitting – choose from the many food booths – several from surrounding Asheville restaurants.
Where’s the beer? Once you purchase a $2 wristband, you can walk around with your beer on the streets that are designated for Bele Chere. FYI – Asheville holds the title for the“Beer City” award – with many different top-notch craft beers to enjoy! No two Aheville beers are the same – My personal favorite – Highland Gaelic Ale.
A popular Asheville slogan is a perfect way to enjoy Bele Chere – “any way you like it”
If you are a fan of extreme sports – Warrior Dash is definitely the event for you! Warrior Dash races are held all over North America, with most of the events in the United States. Pennie Tour traveled to Mountain City, Georgia for a peek at the 2011 Warrior Dash.
Hosted by Red Frog events, Warriors conquer extreme obstacles, push their limits and celebrate with live music, beer and warrior helmets!
Warrior Dash is a 6K run that involves climbing, sliding, crawling through mud under barbed wire and leaping through flames just to name a few! Needless to say, it is not for the faint of heart!
Participants have to register in advance for the specific location where they will compete. Runners get Warrior Dash gear and a medal for completing the race. A small electronic devise is worn on each runner’s foot to keep track of the time to complete the race. The race is run in waves, with new waves starting every half hour in order to eliminate crowding on the courses.
The Mountain City, Georgia race was held over a weekend and offered runners two different days to race. Anyone who is 14 years old or older at the date of the race is allowed to participate.
The best part of Warrior Dash was the people! Most participants dress up, some come in groups, many have themes and everyone is prepared to unleash their inner warrior! Any costume is acceptable according to the rule that no costume can “harm other participants”. Pennie Tour encounterd Fred Flinstone, Smurfs, Brides, Cougars and even the Incredible Hulk!
Touted as “The Craziest Frickin’ Day of Your Life” Warrior Dash is definitely a race like no other. The event itself states that Warrior Dash is not most races. Warrior Dash does what Warrior Dash wants to do.
HELEN, GEORGIA – Pennie Tour visited the North Georgia town of Helen to partake in Oktoberfest 2010. Not sure what we liked better – the Ompah music or the Bavarian beer! Since 1970, Georgia’s tranquil little town of Helen transforms into the ultimate North Georgia party town! Helen’s Oktoberfest offers Bavarian food, chicken dancing, Polka dancers in native costume, and German beer.
Helen became a tourist attraction after the town changed its appearance to make the store fronts look like a Bavarian Alps village. Helen copied Munich, Germany and started celebrating Oktoberfest to draw in even more tourists. Nestled along the Chattahoochee River, Helen receives many tourists in the summer months that take advantage of the river tubing, hiking and other outdoor activities offered. When fall arrives, even more people invade this Bavarian town to view the changing leaves and to involve themselves in Oktoberfest!
Helen’s Oktoberfest begins on the second Thursday of September and runs through the first Sunday of November. A parade on the first Saturday of the festival kicks off the celebration. Pennie Tour took in the Bavarian influence of the partygoers and even experienced Helen’s famous dancing man who is a staple of Oktoberfest at Café International.
Although the entire town participates in the Oktoberfest, Oompah-central is the Festhalle, where the bands play throughout the day. Can hang out in the Festhalle all day – you can purchase your cold beer (Leinenkugel is made in Milwaukee) and hot off the grill German-style wursts (sausages), listen to the band and dance! The most popular dance in Helen during Oktoberfest is the Chicken Dance. The “Chicken Dance” is a Swiss oompah song from the 1950s that has become a traditional dance of Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest lasts into the wee hours of the night. This year’s newest attraction was King Ludwig’s Bier Garden, which opened in September, where there was dancing and even more German beer! Festival attendees are not allowed to walk through the town of Helen with alcoholic drinks (to the dismay of many), so the Bier Garden proved to be the choice of many because of its open-air venue, music and outside dance floor.
Visit Helen, Georgia the next time you are in the mood for bratwurst, or even Weiner schnitzel. A visit during Oktoberfest will make you feel as if you were in Munich! Hotels fill up fast – so it is important to book a hotel early. DANKE SCHÖN!
The Pennie Tour visited Helen, Georgia for Oktoberfest on October 9. We had a great time talking with everyone, drinking “german” beer and doing the chicken dance. The Pennie Tour Oktoberfest episode will be released soon!
July 23-25- ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
Another great festival in Asheville, North Carolina! Bele Chere is the largest free street festival in the Southeast. This three day event takes place in beautiful Western North Carolina. An annual event, Bele Chere sends the streets of downtown Asheville into a unique eclectic street party.
The hot July heat did not keep folks away. The event drew more than 350,000 attendees. Festival goers experienced the arts, culture, entertainment, and food. The purchase of a $2 armband allowed those 21 and older to buy drinks such as beer and wine from beverage stations (Friday and Saturday) and to roam the designated streets.
Asheville is home to many different breweries and many enjoyed the local beer from Asheville Brewing Company, French Broad Brewing Company, Highland Brewing Company, Green Man Brewing Company and Pisgah Brewing Company.
The many artists and street performers make this street festival fun and unique!
Committed to music, Bele Chere offers a variety of local, regional, and national performers covering all genres – all for FREE! Performances this year were not as big as in years past. Featured past performers have included Train, Gin Blossoms, The Wailers, Travis Tritt, Cowboy Mouth and Edwin McCain. The economy dictated venues, but the event was still free and the musicians that did perform did a fantastic job with the crowds. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Toubab Krewe, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Southern Culture on the Skids were just a few of the performers on stage during the 32nd annual Bele Chere – and they rocked the streets!
Bele Chere is fun for the whole family. Many dance lessons were offered such as Swing and Zydeco and the popular Community Drum Circle is always a fun and unique experience. The Children’s Area even offered pilates and storytelling!
The term Bele Chere is believed to have come from an ancient Scottish slang meaning “beautiful living”. It appeared that everyone in attendance was indeed celebrating the beauty of Bele Chere.