Street preachers have been invading Bele Chere like poison ivy in a park. This year, they spread their amplified hate beyond Vance Monument and took over Pritchard Park. Just around the corner by the Battery Park Stage, however, we wicked witches of Coven Oldenwilde — whom many might assume to be a natural target for puritanical ranters — actually welcomed thousands of festivalgoers at our nonprofit wristband booth unmolested.
Here's how, based on our two decades of experience, [we prevent] the disruption of our annual public Samhain ritual by brigades of anger-addicted Bible thumpers bused in from out of town. The preachers' sole weapon is sound — a loud megaphone drone of accusatory spew that intentionally ruins the spirit of the festival. Their tactic only works in a relative sonic vacuum, easily neutralized if the local sound-scape is filled with amplified live or recorded music, as by a stage or concerted drumming, such as a drum circle.
Asheville can't afford to lose the valuable publicity boost the Southeast's largest street festival gives it each year. Here are two suggestions for keeping future Bele Cheres from being expensively buzz-killed by evangelical agitators.
One: Asheville's drum-circle regulars could organize and raise funds from affected merchants to pay
a rotating crew of skilled drummers to keep a danceable beat going at Vance Monument and Pritchard Park throughout the festival.
Two: Pre-recorded music (preferably by local bands and DJs) could be played continuously there, amplified loud enough to defeat megaphones but not interfere with the live bands nearby.
— Steve Rasmussen