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WNC Business

Hendersonville Tradition supports BRCC students

Jun 05, 2024 07:48PM ● By WNC Business

In May, 20 new “Bearfootin’ Bears” were revealed by the Friends of Downtown Hendersonville, and Blue Ridge Community College had a special role in this year’s tradition.

Prior to their placement along Hendersonville’s Main Street, all 20 life-size bear statues were given a protective clear coat finish by Blue Ridge’s Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology program students. Additionally, one special bear was commissioned by generous donors to raise funds for the College’s horticulture program.

Each year, local artists are commissioned to create detailed artwork on bear figures purchased from the Friends of Downtown Hendersonville. The latest works will be auctioned this fall with proceeds benefiting a number of area charities, including the Blue Ridge Community College Educational Foundation.

Protecting a Tradition

This spring, students and faculty of Blue Ridge’s collision program had a secret to keep; they were among the first to see all 20 of the highly confidential Bearfootin’ Bears up close. The bears were brought to Blue Ridge’s automotive refinishing lab as part of a partnership with the Friends of Downtown Hendersonville.

Led by program leader Brian Foster, students applied two layers of automotive-grade clear coat finish to the bears to shield them from the elements. The activity not only helped to weatherproof the artwork against rain, sunlight, and heat, it also served to teach students important vehicle repair techniques that they’ll use in their future careers.

A Bear for Blue Ridge

On Main Street and 2nd Avenue, one Bearfootin’ Bear depicts an agricultural scene surrounding a depiction of Blue Ridge Community College’s future automated greenhouse. Painted by local artist and Blue Ridge Community College instructor Rachel Vera, it was commissioned by committed college supporters Dennis and Victoria Flanagan.

Information about Blue Ridge Community College’s horticulture program is available at, and information about the Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology program is available at