These Bears in Hendersonville are Extra Docile - TribPapers

These Bears in Hendersonville are Extra Docile

Thriving in the Garden is created by Amy Weinsoff and Diana Levenson. Proceeds partly benefit Thrive Community Services, to support adults with mental health and housing needs. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Hendersonville – People can bid on any of the 20 bear figurines online for a month, from Sept. 21 until just before a benefit auction is in-person on Saturday, Oct. 21 in front of the Henderson County Historic Courthouse.

Twenty bears, as usual, are fastened to sidewalk and spread along Hendersonville’s mile-long Main Street since May. Most are near street corners.

Three variations of bear figurines remain a tradition. Most are on all four paws. Some stand on their hind legs. A few others depict a mother cuddling her cub. They are fastened in place, and have protective coatings.

Sponsors pay for each blank porcelain bear, and choose which non-profit organization is assigned to it. A local artist designs and decorates the bear, to reflect a theme such as local scenery or its designated non-profit group.

All 20 bears go up for auction. Winning bids up to $3,000 are split evenly between the bear’s assigned non-profit and downtown programs. Any amount beyond $3,000 goes solely to the non-profit. A select few bears in recent years each doubled that $3,000 threshold. Bids set records of about $102,000 total raised in 2021, then $140,250 last year when 63 people made 239 total bids.

Downtown Events Coordinator Meredith Freidheim and the Downtown Events Team oversee Bearfootin’ and its auction, with “vision and support” from Friends of Downtown Hendersonville volunteers, City Public Works, and others. City Community Development Director Lew Holloway and Bryan “B Squared” Byrd co-hosted the bear figurine reveal on May 20.

Tremendous Twenty

There are often map pamphlets in the Hendersonville Visitor’s Center at 201 S. Main St. A map of the 20 figurines’ downtown location corresponds to this numbered list of each one and its artist, non-profit beneficiary, and monetary sponsor:

1) Hope and Honeycrisp: Andrea Martin, artist. Beneficiary: Safelight Family Sponsored by Meliora House of Design.

2) Lolly: Abigail Buckman, artist. Beneficiary and sponsor: Friends of Downtown Hendersonville.

3) Soul Seeker: Miriam Hughes, Jenny L. Camp, Ramona Manea, artists. Sponsored by Laughing Elephant Yoga. Beneficiary: Safelight, Inc.

4) Lili SandBear: Susan Dawood, artist. Beneficiary: The Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. Sponsored by The Barn Volunteers of Connemara Farms.

5) Creativity: Bethany Joy Adams, artist. Beneficiary and sponsor: The Arts Council of Henderson County.

6) Blooming Kindness: Phoebe Balcken, artist. Beneficiary and sponsor: Children & Family Resource Center.

7) Strollin’: Cathyann Burgess, artist. Beneficiary: NC Lions Inc. Brighter Visions. Sponsored by Etowah Lions Club, Hendersonville Lions Club.

8) Lovie: Carol Clay, artist. Beneficiary: Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue. Sponsored by Edward Jones – Fletcher, Captive Minds – South Asheville, Heidi Ho On The Go Food Truck.

9) Homecoming: Effie Grigoropoulou, artist. Beneficiary: Veterans Healing Farm. Sponsored by Hendersonville, N.C. Elks Lodge 1616.

10) Home for All Seasons: Lisa Clark, Roseanna Coates, Liberty McMillan, artists. Beneficiary: Aura Home Women Veterans. Sponsored by the Hendersonville Woman’s Club.

11) Beautiful Place To Serve: Elizabeth Pooler, artist. Beneficiary: First Responder Ministries – Henderson County. Sponsored by Bridge Church – Hendersonville.

12) The Spirit of Hendersonville: Dee Ballenger. Beneficiary: Hendersonville Family YMCA. Sponsored by The Super Sign Guy.

13) Blossom: Kristie Grove, artist. Beneficiary: Henderson County Habitat for Humanity. Sponsored by the Friends of Habitat.

14) Clowning Around Bear: Callie Renee Annas, Martin Osteen, artists. Beneficiary: The Shriners Children’s Hospitals. Sponsored by The Hendersonville Shrine Club.

15) Seek the Joy: June Ellen Bradley, artist. Beneficiary: Green River Preserve Scholarship Fund. Sponsored by Schenck Family Conservancy.

16) Thriving in the Garden: Amy Weinsoff, Diana Levenson, artists. Beneficiary: Thrive. Sponsored by Homestead, Moe’s Original Bar B Que, RE/MAX Results, Sherman’s Sports and Army Store, Looking Glass Realty.

17) Story Bear: Becky Bonnema, artist. Beneficiary: Literacy Connection. Sponsored by Mast Builders, LLC.

18) Gemma: Shayna Knapp, artist. Beneficiary: Housing Assistance Corporation. Sponsored by M. Hilton Swing, Broker | REALTOR©.

19) Koda: Laura Bell, artist. Beneficiary: United Way of Henderson County. Sponsored by BMW of Asheville.

20) Buzz: Alicia Eddy, artist. Beneficiary: Hope Coalition. Sponsored by the Hope Coalition Board.

For more info or to bid on the bears online starting Sept. 21, check: