Asheville ‘Festivals & Events’ guide connects small businesses to vending opportunities


Asheville hosts a wide variety of special events and festivals across the City’s outdoor public spaces. A new booklet, “City of Asheville Outdoor Public Space 2018 Festivals & Events,” serves as a guide to 70 of the 200 or so of them. But it’s more than a listing of what to do on weekends in the new year.

The “2018 Festivals & Events” guide doubles as a resource for small businesses, connecting the dots between them and vending opportunities throughout the year.


The guide is the byproduct of a year-long research study of the City’s outdoor events and festivals. Funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission, the study’s goal was to better understand how events contribute to entrepreneurship and small business growth.


“The study identified an annual premium of $2.7 million in increased sales earned by businesses that participated in outdoor special events, so we’re working to better disseminate information relating to those opportunities,” said Economic Development Specialist Jon Fillman, who permits outdoor special events for the City. “A legend that identifies which events offer space for exhibits and vending is one of the keys to this booklet.”


This project was driven by three primary objectives:

  •         To assist small businesses, vendors and sponsors plan participation at, and engage with an audience through the opportunities provided by special events.
  •         To connect dozens of independent event organizers/event promoters and help them collaborate through working together on a shared project — the development of an annual brochure of events.
  •         To demonstrate to residents and visitors the wide variety of events and festivals conducted within public space, helping them plan to attend, shop, volunteer and support local businesses — all while indirectly reinforcing City Council’s commitment to supporting a diverse community, a connected and engaged community, and a thriving local economy.


Connecting the dots . . .


Besides being a handy guide for everyone, the “2018 Festivals & Events” booklet is also designed to work as a resource for small business development organizations. The goal is to help create a path between the locally created products and the public.


One specific outgrowth is a “test drive” program proposed for Mountain BizWorks participants, who need a way to test whether their products will resonate with the market. “We’re working to remove barriers and encourage entrepreneurs to ‘test drive’ their products and services in a public space,” said Fillman.


Where to get the guide


The “City of Asheville Outdoor Public Space 2018 Festivals & Events” booklet is available online. Visit this link for the online version.


Printed copies are now available at Asheville City Hall, and are currently rolling out to business offices including the Asheville Downtown Association, Mountain BizWorks, Chamber of Commerce, Asheville Area Arts Council, Western Women’s Business Center, Land of Sky Regional Council, with many more to come.


The City of Asheville Community & Economic Development Department manages outdoor special event permitting, partnerships, lease agreements and City service coordination for all event, festival and commercial film productions involving City-owned property, streets and parks. For more information visit the City’s Outdoor Special Events webpage. Or contact Economic Development Specialist Jon Fillman at or 828-259-5738.


Ten events permitted by the City of Asheville