Approximately 200 hungry patrons meandered down Traffic Way Saturday, sampling bite-sized burgers from a handful of local eateries during the first-ever Slider Day on Traffic Way event, hosted by the Traffic Way Collaborators.
Slider Day marked the fifth event hosted by the Traffic Way Collaborators, a loose association of individuals at downtown businesses including Cartlon Hotel owner Deena Alexander, Carlton Hotel Assistant Manger Annie Weyrick, Grape Encounters Empourium owners David and Annie Wilson and Ärt/ owner Marie Ramey. The group previously hosted Taco Day on Traffic Way, Tater Day on Traffic Way and Paint Your Way Down Traffic Way.
“We’re trying to bring viability downtown,” Alexander said. “So people remember that there’s a down town and they should come shop here.”
Alexander said that David Wilson originally came up with the idea of putting together the Traffic Way Collaborators.
“He said ‘we need to do something about Traffic Way, why don’t we start doing events?’” she said. “So the Carton covered a lot of the costs for that first event and we gave the food vendors $100 stipend to prepare 200 or 300 portions so they weren’t out too much.”
Alexander said that attendance at the group’s events has been fairly steady, usually drawing about 200 people. This past weekend Slider Day was also competing with several other large events going on in the county including the Preparedness Expo in San Luis Obispo, a large women’s conference and an event at Charles Paddock Zoo celebrating the return of the zoo’s bronze tiger statue.
“I feel fortunate that we had 200,” Alexander said.
The events are helping to bring attention to downtown business though, Weyrick said.
“I was walking up and down the road today and I’ve seen so many people walk into the Art Association gallery or different businesses and you hear them say ‘I never knew this was here’,” Weyrick said. “We want to grow it and make it a big block party, bit-by-bit.”
In the future the group hopes to close Traffic Way to vehicle traffic and place vendors in the street and possibly also expand the festivities to Entrada Avenue.
Alexander said that the group has committed to hosting two of the events on an annual basis — Taco Day on Traffic Way and Slider Day on Traffic Way. Two other previous events — Tater Day on Traffic Way and Paint Your Way Down Traffic Way — were not as well attended, she said.
“People didn’t get as excited about potatoes,” Weyrick said.
The proceeds from previous events are already being put to good use. Weyrick said a portion of the proceeds went toward paying for new banners urging people to discover the downtown area. The banners will feature art created by attendees at the Paint Your Way Down Traffic Way event. Ten percent of the proceeds from Slider Day also went to the Atascadero Printery Foundation and its mission to purchase and repurpose the Atascadero Printery building.
Alexander said that while a few out-of-town guests at the Carton participated in the event, it was mostly locals, which is the whole idea.
“It takes the locals for us to survive down here,” she said. “We can’t just depend on all the tourists.”