Since 1986, the Bash has drawn artists, musicians, performers, and merchants to rural downtown Commerce toward the end of September. Commerce citizens claim it as our premiere event, taking pride in it attracts many from the region and welcomes newcomers to town in unmistakable Commerce style.
The Bois d’Arc Bash is now in its 32nd year.
Our street festival was named for the bois d’arc tree (pronounced “bodark” around here), which means “bow wood” in French. In other areas, it is known as Osage orange, hedge apple, horse apple, and about forty other common names. The university scientific name is Maclura pomifera. We celebrate this hard, durable, and tough tree, hoping you will join us to create a weekend of fun. In all the world, the only native habitat of the bois d’arc tree is in the Red River Valley and on the Blackland Prairie. Commerce is smack dab in the middle of that area.
Among the bois d’arc celebrities who have attended the Bois d’Arc Bash are Ron Hardcastle, a leading bowyer and competitive marksman who favors bois d’arc for making his famous bows. For the television series based on Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, Hardcastle–who lives in Austin–created the arrow that killed the Robert Duval character. Of course, the arrow was shot by a bow Hardcastle crafted from bois d’arc wood. At the Bash, Hardcastle displayed bows and arrows he had made and demonstrated his accuracy in hitting the center of a target.
For three years during early Bashes, Bud Hanzlick and his wife came from Belleville, Illinois, to offer area residents furniture and home furnishings Bud had created from bois d’arc fence posts and newly milled lumber. Hanzlick’s creations had been promoted by Robert Redford’s Sundance magazine. Folks around Commerce enjoy showing visitors pieces made by Hanzlick and purchased at the Bash during his visits.
More participation and excitement than ever before is the goal of local citizens planning the event. Efforts are being made to find those who would like to be more than a spectator. You can be a part of the hands-on thrills by becoming a volunteer. Every student and faculty member in Commerce from K through 12 and at Texas A&M University-Commerce, as well as every Commerce resident, is invited to help represent our energetic town by joining in volunteer activities. To become a volunteer, call the Commerce Chamber of Commerce office at 903-886-3950.