First-ever Atascadero Bluegrass Freedom Festival a success

The first-ever Atascadero Bluegrass Freedom Festival brought hundreds of people and three different bluegrass bands to Atascadero Lake Park Saturday, helping to raise funds for the annual Colony Days celebration.

Event organizer Nicholas Mattson said that he’s still working on a final tally, but he estimated that the event raised thousands for the cause.

“We’re still recovering from the event, but we sold 350 plates of barbecue and I would guess that we made about $3,000 for Colony Days,” Mattson said. “That money goes toward street closures, promotions… that whole parade costs about $15,000 to put on every year and the money will go toward that. We’ve been looking for a fundraiser for a few years for that and I think we found one.”

Mattson said that the event was well attended, with an estimated 2,500 in attendance throughout the day.

Mattson said that he would bet on the event returning next year with the possibility of adding some sort of visual aspect to the celebration.

“Being that it was our first year, with how much we had going on there, we have some improvements to make, but I don’t think any big changes besides the possibility of a laser light show or even fireworks… maybe fireworks, but definitely a laser light show or something like that,” he said.

The event was also a success for the Printery Foundation, which provided the beer and wine for the event. Final numbers are not yet available, but Mattson said that the foundation sold out of wine and went through three kegs of beer.

“They made a great profit too,” he said.

Several members of the Colony Days board of directors attended the event to help out — most notably David and Brenda May who handled all of the trash pick-up and kept the bathrooms in order and did a great job according to Mattson — but most of the volunteers were 55 or older and the board is actively looking to recruit people in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

“That’s the demographic that we’re missing big time,” Mattson said. “We need those people just to volunteer to help out, a lot of ‘day of’ stuff — just being there, being available, helping coordinate things, watch things, move things, that kind of thing.”

Those interested in volunteering should visit and fill out the volunteer form.

Mattson said that event headliner Snap Jackson has already shown interest in returning for the event next year.

“He said he wanted to and we’d love to have him back,” he said. “People were very congratulatory on the event as a whole, very thankful that we had something in Atascadero that they didn’t have to travel for. The crowd was really perfect. The amount of people we had there was really perfect for that venue and for the park. There were a lot of families — more families than I expected — and everybody was really happy that we had something for the 4th of July.” 

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