Dallas Storms the Bastille in Oak Cliff, Leaving Organizers Très Suprised by Massive Turnout

bastille.jpg
Jason Roberts, via Flickr
Early in the Bastille-storming
Here's hoping your relationship with Big Chief White Cloud, the god of parking, isn't just one of those Christmas-and-Easter things, because if you intended to get to last night's Bastille Day celebration in Oak Cliff's Bishop Arts District, having him on your side was a major plus.

Organizers and Francophiles Jason and Andrea Roberts and friends planned for about 500 attendees at the street party. This morning, they estimate that more than 1,500 folks from all over Dallas -- not just OC'ers--showed up to eat mussels, crepes and play petanque -- while it lasted, at least. Refreshments started running low just a couple of hours into the event because so many people showed up.

Just got off the phone with Jason, who says they were totally shocked by the attendance. "We did everything wrong," he said. "It was a Wednesday in Oak Cliff in the middle of July and it's a French holiday." But Dallasites showed up in full French regalia -- demonstrating striped shirts, beaucoup des chapeaux and cheers for liberte, egalite, and crepes.

bastillemaid.jpg
Jason Roberts, via Flickr
The French Maid competition cleans up.
Sadly, cheering for crepes does not make crepes out of thin air. When we arrived at Bishop Arts around 8:30 p.m., hungry for a floppy French pastry, we were turned away at the crepe stand. They'd run out, even after making an extra batch. Who knew so many people would show up to celebrate those damned, godless French? (Though France was the first country besides the U.S. to recognize the Republic of Texas. Vive la France, y'all.)

A lack of crepes was one thing, but mussels, the flagship food of the event, were also in short supply as the sun went down. When I moseyed up to Smoke's booth and explained that they'd run out of les billets pour les mussels and could I just pay cash, the attendant simply told me to take the last plate of spicy, smoky mollusks for free. After getting a lesson in how to loose them from the shells--these were my first-ever mussels, you see -- I closed my eyes and took a gulp. Heaven! Sadly, Smoke mussels didn't make it past the first round of the mussel contest, in which some of Dallas' most beloved chefs competed for the title of mussel master. David Uygur of Lucia won, and our own Jesse Hughey, who was a mussel judge, will have more on that over at City of Ate later on.

mussels.jpg
Jason Roberts, via Flickr
Big, big mussels
Jason Roberts says he's sorry they couldn't accommodate more people, but he's enthused by what the blockbuster attendance means: "We proved that people want good, quality of life activities in the city," he said, adding that all the event-related bureaucratic hoop-jumping that goes on to hold things like Bastille Day prevents more of it from happening. "The city should do everything it can to lower those obstacles and make it easy for us."

Moreover, says Roberts, Bastille Day proved that "even in a down economy, people will come out if you give them the space." And come out they did--while I joked earlier in the week that Bastille Day was surely the honkiest of all holidays -- the diverse crowd disproved my snark. After all, Bastille is about the average citizen demanding rights -- why should Bastille Day celebrations be limited to white table cloths and $75-per-plate snobbery? Says Roberts: "Bastille was like, the storming by the people! Open it up to everyone!"

For those who didn't attend, the Go Oak Cliff Flickr pool is tres chic this matin, and we'll have more photos of our own in a slide show later today.

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16 comments
Bonnie Robinsontx
Bonnie Robinsontx

It was a great evening...we just needed more space!  Vive l'Oak Cliff and the organizers on a job well done!

JF
JF

I don't understand why any new apartment structure in the Bishop Davis zoning area would drive to an event in Bishop Arts - we're talking about an area within 1 mile or 2 at most. And if you were driving around for 30 minutes looking for parking, you passed by at least 10 spots in the process looking for something closer.

Let's play a game called find something to complain about at a free event sponsored by a local non-profit...

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

For those of you who thought the traffic was bad and the parking inadequate, you have seen a glimpse of what the future could hold. If the City Council passes this Bishop Davis zoning plan with it's high density apartments (we're talking 5 stories tall here) coupled with reduced parking requirements, this is what Bishop Arts and the area surrounding will be like every single day and every single night.

Don't get me wrong, I thought the event was a blast and a huge success. I can tolerate the traffic and parking problems resulting from an event like this 2 or 3 times a year - but please Baby Jesus please not every day of the year.

Rob
Rob

Worst street festival ever? I have a hyperbole I'd like to sell you... just 3 tickets and a handicapped parking permit and it's yours.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I went to the event. After finally parking after 30 minutes of driving around, and helping my handicapped friend to get there, as no provisions were made for the handicapped to park, we got there just in time to get to eat nothing and drink nothing.

No food, no drinks, no parking, and people at the ticket booth who were assholes about the whole thing equates to the worst street festival ever!

Anonymous
Anonymous

I don't know why Tim O'Hare wouldn't like this...it's all white people.

ts
ts

@Just Sayin'Err, actually you did have to buy tickets last night (and at the Brewriot). You are correct on the Miller Lite comment if that helps, because it was wine only.

Just Sayin'
Just Sayin'

I have to say this for the events that happen here in Oak Cliff over many other events around town is that they are kinda loose and not all corporate sponsor deals. There's no huge dominate out of town vendors and best of all no retarded no cash, tickets only bullshit. If you want a beer you don't have to go by six tickets from the ticket window for a crappy Miller Lite in a plastic bottle.

Just Sayin'
Just Sayin'

I have to say this for the events that happen here in Oak Cliff over many other events around town is that they are kinda loose and not all corporate sponsor deals. There's no huge dominate out of town vendors and best of all no retarded no cash, tickets only bullshit. If you want a beer you don't have to go by six tickets from the ticket window for a crappy Miller Lite in a plastic bottle.

Tom
Tom

Good point, ts. They do have that. Courage.

cp
cp

I think Jason has it a little backwards with his comment that they have "proved that even in a down economy, people will come out if you give them the space."

I think it's precisely because of the down economy that so many people came out for an event like this. Everyone's sick to death of being broke and inside the house. Give people cheap eats and cheap drinks and fun stuff to do and they will come out in droves.

Buckeye
Buckeye

Best mussels in the world:

Moules avec frites, Chez Leon, 18 rue des Bouchers, Brussels, Belgium.

Daniel
Daniel

Nobody Tim O'Hare knows would have attended this event; therefore, in his mind, nobody would want to attend this event.

Hey, we're all guilty of living in an echo-chamber to some degree. The difference is that Tim O'Hare is exceptionally short and he offices in Carrollton.

ts
ts

@TomYou underestimate the power of the annual Farmers Branch Freedom Fry Festival.

Tom
Tom

Farmers Branch Mayor Tim O'Hare should take note. He like to talk about how scary the OC is and that nobody wants to go there. I doubt he could attract a similar-sized walk-up crowd to an event in his town.

ts
ts

Was a fun event outside the nasty heat (can't do much about that). Luckily the family and I arrived early enough to get tickets and were able to try most of the chef's offerings. I personally thought the mussles from Park and Smoke were the standouts, although the one's from Park have had a long history of being a solid dish (from back in the Green Room days).

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