Volunteer efforts are crucial to pulling off an event like Bele Chere. Fortunately, the City of Asheville has a large population of repeat volunteers that step forward to pitch in every year.
“We have a very loyal volunteer base,” says the festival’s volunteer coordinator Stacey Witkowski. “We have people that have been with for 15 years plus.”
The festival’s 120 volunteers staff information booths or roam the festival with “Bele Chere Information” signs, work at the children’s area and Senior Oasis, help out at the Asheville on Bikes Bike Corral. They also serve as Area Managers, festival officials who are in charge of the smooth operation of entire sections of the festival.
City of Asheville staff also give their time over the weekend to back up employees working the festival, providing support like serving lunch and dinner in the Asheville Civic Center.
But by far the longest stint as a volunteer is performed by Bele Chere board members. That group plays a large part in the year-long production of the Bele Chere festival, including the selection of artists and entertainment. “It’s year-round planning. The time commitment is really huge” Witkowski says. “And we have people that have been on the board for a long time.”
And the board’s job isn’t done when the Bele Chere begins. Over the three-day festival, the board members work the festival, moving from area to area to make sure everyone has the things they need to have a successful Bele Chere.