Colony Days Begins: Quota’s Colony Tea kicks off festivities

Quota International of Atascadero’s Colony Days Founders Tea at Atascadero Bible Church kicked off the week-long Colony Days celebration Saturday.

Last year’s Colony Days Queen Judy Harris crowned this year’s Queen Doris Reynolds and last year’s King Frank Sanchez crowned this year’s King, former judge Ed Chidlaw. In place of last year’s Grand Marshal Grenda Ernst, who was dealing with a family emergency and not able to attend, Barbie Butz pinned this year’s Grand Marshal, Jerry Tanimoto.

The Colony Tea, attended by those 55 and older who have been in Atascadero for at least 40 years, gives Atascadero old timers the opportunity to pass around the microphone and share stories about the old days.

Harris kicked things off before handing over her crown to this year’s Queen.

“I’ve been teaching piano in Atascadero forever it seems like and it’s been my privilege to meet so many wonderful folks who have moved here from all over and it’s such an honor to be selected queen,” she said.

The newly crowned Queen Reynolds recalled meeting and befriending Colony Days founder Maggie Vandergone after moving to town shortly after WWII. She ended up serving for 25 years on the Colony Days committee, retiring from the board in 2006.

“So for years I enjoyed that,” Reynolds said. “It was always a fun committee to belong to because it was planning for a big, fun event.

Reynolds said that she was completely surprised when Colony Days committee member Kent Kenney called her to let her know she’d been chosen to serve as the Queen for this year’s celebration.

“I’m so grateful though because it’s a committee that I enjoyed and I hope all of you enjoyed for these many years,” she said.

Chidlaw said that being crowned King was one of the highlights of his 42 years in Atascadero, but lamented the fact that his wife, who died two years ago, wasn’t there to share the moment with him.

“I enjoyed myself on the bench, I enjoyed myself on the fair board, I enjoyed myself practicing in Atascadero and being a part of Atascadero,” Chidlaw said.

Outgoing King Sanchez was the last to speak at the head table before handing off his crown to Chidlaw.

“I can say that I did not pass any new laws, I did not declare war, there was peace throughout my year,” Sanchez said with a smile.

The main Colony Days events are set for this Saturday, Oct. 21 beginning with a pancake breakfast served by Atascadero Lions Club at 7 a.m., followed by the parade at 10 a.m. This year’s parade theme is “Fall in Love with Atascadero.” The parade lineup is available on the event’s website,

To showcase the city’s beginnings in Tent City, which was where the first residents of Atascadero lived before their houses were ready for them to move into, a re-enactment of the city will be set up in Sunken Gardens. The Tent City re-enactment is in a different location from past years due to the construction of the pedestrian bridge over Atascadero Creek.

The Friday before the Colony Days celebration, Tent City will become a classroom, an education site for Atascadero third-grade students to learn about the city’s history.

Tent City is populated with more than 100 actors of all ages who go about their daily lives, as if it were 100 years earlier. Modern visitors are able to trade in their paper dollars for wooden nickels and go shopping in Tent City. Visitors can get ice cream, a shave or a haircut from a trained Atascadero barber and newspapers or goodies from the general store. There will be music, dancing, performances and pie eating contests; E.G. and Mabel Lewis may even make an appearance during the festivities.

“Each has been trained to develop a character and costume that is authentic; the goal is to be not only entertaining, but also educational,” past Tent City volunteer Terise Kelley said. “Some participate as exhibitors, and all are very welcoming and encourage our visitors to jump in and participate. You can wash the laundry outside in a galvanized tub, help prepare apples for drying and cider, go shopping for vintage toys and candy in the Mercantile, or sit and have tea in Mrs. Lewis’ rose garden.”

Tent City will be open for visitors from the conclusion of the parade to 4 p.m., though many actors will spend the previous night in the tents and will be going about Tent City getting ready for the day, just as they would have 100 years earlier.

“A hundred years later, the wisdom of growing your own food and working your own property to make a living is becoming very popular again,” Kelley said. “Tent City harkens back to an era when life was simpler, and people depended on themselves and their neighbors — to work hard on the land, and to share the vision of creating a new kind of community, where the common good was pursued with optimism and hope. Still a worthy goal.”

Volunteers are always needed to help with the community event prior to the event through Oct. 22. To find out how you can help, go to

Social Media Contests

The committee is hosting two social media contests. The first will end Thursday, Oct. 19 at 5 p.m. and the winner announced that evening via Facebook Live. To enter, post your favorite photo of Atascadero with why you fell in love with Atascadero, using the hashtag #fallinlovewithatascadero and #colonydaysatascadero. A winner will randomly be chosen from all entrants and will win two VIP seats to watch the parade on El Camino Real at the Sunken Gardens and two tickets to Tent City After Dark.

Find Colony Days on Facebook, Tent City and Twitter.

The second will take place on Saturday, Oct. 21. Post your photos from any event happening during Colony Days on Instagram with the hashtag #fallinlovewithatascadero and #colonydaysatascadero. The winner will be announced on Sunday, Oct. 22.

Colony Days Schedule of Events: 

• 7 to 9 a.m.: Lions Club Pancake Breakfast in Sunken Gardens

• 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Vendors & amusements in and around Sunken Gardens

• 10 a.m.: Parade begins near A-Town Diner on El Camino Real and ends at West Mall and Palma Avenue

• After the parade to 4 p.m.: Tent City re-enactment in Sunken Gardens, events will include pie eating contest and other games during the day—see schedule in Tent City

• 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Dogtoberfest registration in Sunken Gardens

• 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Tours of historic city hall

• 1 to 2:30 p.m.: Dogtoberfest wiener dog races in Sunken Gardens

• 2:30 p.m.: Pet Costume Contest (any size dog can participate)

• 6 to 9 p.m.: Tent City After Dark with live bluegrass music by the Toro Creek Ramblers in Sunken Gardens, tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the event.

Colony Days Parade Lineup: 

1. Templeton American Legion Post

2. AHS Greyhounds Marching Band

3. AHS Greyhound Cheerleaders

4. AHS Show Choir

5. AHS Drama

6. Royalty/ Grand Marshal

7. City of Atascadero

7. City of Atascadero - APD

7. City of Atascadero - Public Works

7. Atascadero Fire & Emergency Services (AFES)

7. Atascadero Fire & Emergency Services (AFES)

7. Atascadero Fire & Emergency Services (AFES)

8. Atascadero Firefighters Association (AFFA)

9. *Parade Flag Sponsors*

10. Friends of the Atascadero Library

11. Friends of the Atascadero Library

12. Barbara Dixon Group

13. Brightwood Dental

14. Atascadero Middle School Marching Band

15. Atascadero Community Church

16. Stepping Stones Preschool

17. ELKS

18. Joes Little Train

19. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Posse

20. Debbie Arnold

21. Rotary Club of Atascadero


23. BAND - Arroyo Grande

24. San Benito Road Elementary School

25. Miss California Mid State Fair and Court

26. Republican Women

27. Cerro Alto 4 H Club

28. Motion Academy of KIDS

29. Hart Chiropractic

30. AHS Leadership -Homecoming

31. AEF / The Greybots

32. Atascadero Wranglerettes

33. The Printery

34. Atascadero Fine Arts Academy

35. Paso Robles High School

36. American Heritage Girls

37. Atascadero Masonic Lodge

38. Pozo 4-H

39. Peterson U Cart

40. Cub Scout Pack 51

41. US Forest Service

42. US Forest Service

43. Michael Woody for Congress

44. SLO HS Marching Band

45. Mid State Cruizers

46. Mid State Cruizers

47. Mid State Cruizers

48. Mid State Cruizers

49. Mid State Cruizers

50. Mid State Cruizers

51. Mid State Cruizers

52. Righetti HIgh School Band

53. Kiwanis

54. Santa Rosa Academic Academy

55. THe Haunt

56. AAUW

57. Gypsy magic!

58. Donna Ackerson

59. Main Street Dance Company

60. San Gabriel Elementary School PTA

61. Atascadero Paddle Boats / Rob Andres

62. Templeton H.S. Band

63. Waste Management

64. Micheal and Maria Cagnia

65. Leo Scholz

66. Jim Cagnina

67. Creston Rodeo Queen

& Jr. Queen

68. Esculea del RIO

69. AYSO U10 soccer

70. AYSO U10 soccer

71. Paulding Middle School

72. Thank you, Kiwanis!

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