The beverage booths on the streets of Bele Chere probably don’t need to offer much more incentives to attract patrons. They do, however, have the added bonus of being completely staffed by volunteers from area nonprofits and groups that support nonprofits, who then share in the revenue while getting added community exposure. For three days during this year’s Bele Chere, members of 10 nonprofits pour beverages, take cash and interact with festival goers. Beverage sales make up a third of the festival’s revenues, and participating nonprofits can earn up to 20 percent of the money brought in. Diane Ruggiero, Superintendent of Cultural Arts at the City of Asheville explains that all of the groups’ efforts are pooled and a percentage is divided evenly after the festival is over.
Some groups, like the Benevolent Order of Does, use that money to donate to other groups. “We give money to Meals on Wheels, ABCCM and groups to support battered women,” says BPO Does Supreme President Robin Bell. Like the Does, some groups have been involved in the Bele Chere Festival for years. Others are newcomers. But they all are an integral part of the festival. “We enjoy this. We enjoy the people,” Bell says. “We’ve been doing this forever.”
The groups selling beverages at the 2010 Bele Chere Festival are: Wild South, Brother Wolf Canine Rescue, BPO Does, XI Omega Chapter BSP, Cataloochee Ski Patrol, Phi Beta Lambda of A-B Tech, St. Johns Episcopal Church, Asheville Area Paralegals, and Engineers Without Borders.