If you’ve never been to the annual Bastille on Bishop festival in Dallas’s Oak Cliff neighborhood, plan now to make it to the 5th annual event. It will take place on July 14, from 6-10 p.m.
Go Oak Cliff, one of the most active community groups in North Texas, puts on one heck of a festival with street performers (like my grandson Kameron Badgers, who’ll be back for the third straight year), wine tasting, and amazing food. Of course, the restaurants, shops and galleries that make the Bishop Arts District one of the best shopping destinations in town will be open late as well.
Kameron is just one of the many talented performers who’ll be working for tips along the 3-block festival area. And there will be musicians playing on the main stage, and in the areas set aside for dancing. It’s a safe, fun outing for the whole family with something for everyone of almost any age.
Amy Wallace Cowan, the marketing powerhouse behind much of Go Oak Cliff’s success, has an interesting story about just why there is a Bastille Day celebration (not to mention a Mardi Gras parade) in North Texas. I thought I knew my Dallas history pretty well, but this had always escaped me until I read the “About Bastille on Bishop” page on the festival’s website.
“Ever wonder where the Reunion Tower got its name? You’ll have to head back to 1855, when Dallas was in existence for only 14 years, to find a group of 200 mostly French settlers led by Victor Considerant who made their way from Houston by ox cart to set up a ‘Utopian Community’ based on the ideas of Charles Fourier in what is now North Oak Cliff.
“Considerant had fled the armies of Napolean III after he’d staged a series of protests against the Roman Expansion. The community brought Dallas its first piano and beer brewery, and though it would collapse within a few years, many of the settlers who disbanded would later move to the city of Dallas and formed much of the cultural endeavors that made the young city stand out from other landlocked communities.
“One of the La Reunion inhabitants, François Jean Cantagrel, would later return to France and become the Vice Mayor of Paris. Other notables included former Conductor of the Paris Odeon, Allyre Bureau.
“The caliber of individuals that set out to call our side of the river home was incredible, and imagining these highly cultured people setting down stakes in North Oak Cliff is definitely worthy of celebration!
“The Bastille on Bishop Festival honors our city’s rich French history by promoting the art,culture, history, and spirit of a nation who helped form our early identity.” (The italicized text is from the Bastille on Bishop website, and is “fair use” with no copyright claim on my part — visit the festival’s website for great pictures, tickets, and all the details on the festival!)
The Reunion Tower is named after the La Reunion colony, a settlement on the south bank of the Trinity River in what is now West Dallas and Oak Cliff. It was founded by Victor Prosper Considérant, an advocate of Fourierism, a utopian socialist philosophy based on communal living. Victor Prosper Considérant toured Texas scouting for land, and returned to Europe to recruit settlers and secure funding in order to start the European Society for the Colonization of Texas. French, Belgium and Swiss settlers arrived in Texas in 1855, and at its peak in 1856 it numbered 350, but by 1857 the colony was dissolved. Texas weather was just too harsh for the colony to survive. Half the settlement remained in Texas, later becoming important residents of the growing Dallas settlement. [image: La Reunion settler Francois Santerre]
La Reunion settler Francois Santerre
The Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division contains quite a bit of material that would be of interest to La Reunion researchers. The Santerre and Cretien Families manuscript collection contains photographs, letters, and the genealogy of these families who were among the original settlers of the colony: http://dallaslibrary2.org/texas/archives/06302.html. George H. Santerre, a descendant of the colonists, wrote a book about the history of the settlement, *White Cliffs of Dallas: the Story of La Reunion, the Old French Colony*.
On Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 11:35 AM, Marketing Where Technology Intersects