This year included more rides, more bands, and over 18,000 attendees
ATASCADERO — Atascadero residents, out-of-towners, and Central Coast residents from all over headed to the Sunken Gardens the weekend of Nov. 18 through Nov. 20 for the second Annual Atascadero Fall Festival. The free fest, put on by En Fuego Events and presented by Visit Atascadero and the City of Atascadero, was back and bigger than ever.
“You know, after we did it our first year, we were kinda blown away with the response from the community. And they were like, ‘we don’t ever have anything like this here. We usually have to leave to go enjoy something. Go to Paso or go to San Luis,'” said En Fuego Events Event Organizer and Owner Andres Nuno. “The response we got is that they felt like this was theirs. People were coming to Atascadero to do the fun things that normally they have to go away to do.”
Last year the Fall Fest brought in over 17,000 attendees, and approximately 18,000 people rolled through the free three-day event this year.
“We’ve been waiting for this event for an entire year because we just had so much fun here,” added Nuno.
He went on to say that even with the CIF semifinal football game at the high school and the middle school dance on Friday, the turnout on opening night was amazing, and attendance continued to grow throughout the weekend.
On top of three day Fall Fest, there was also a boutique-style craft beer fest called Suds at Sunken Gardens from noon to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19. Guests of the beer fest got a souvenir glass and could try adult beverages from 16 local and guest breweries, wineries, and cideries.
“This is just a family-focused event. Where mom and dad can come out and enjoy themselves, and you know, mom and dad can get a beer or wine and take the kids on carnival rides or listen to some great music,” Nuno said. “With it being a free admission event, it really does allow families who have three or four kids to come and still enjoy the day, and if they don’t want to spend any money, they don’t have to. They can just come and relax.”
The fest also boasted two stages full of live music for everyone to enjoy, featuring 30-plus bands over all three days. Reggae legend Pato Banton returned to the stage Saturday night to headline the festival for the second year in a row.
“We have a little bit of everything for everyone. Whether you’re a 4-year-old, or you’re in junior high, or you’re in high school, or you’re in your 60s and 70s, there’s a little bit of everything for everybody. That’s what the focus is,” added Nuno.
The festival also hosted 16 different food vendors along with merchants and carnival rides.
“We increased the number of rides because we increased our footprint,” stated Nuno about the additional four rides at this year’s fest.
The festival featured over 20 rides, including the Ferris wheel in front of City Hall, and game booths, filling not only the streets surrounding Sunken Gardens but also spilling onto Palma Avenue. There are possible plans to expand the festival even more next year.
“We really want to thank the City of Atascadero for allowing us to do this event. And a big thank you to Terrie Banish at the city, who’s been a huge supporter of what we do,” Nuno said. “We just truly appreciate them and really appreciate the people that live here coming out, and we’re happy to be able to do this for them.”
The Atascadero Fall Festival will be back for its third year on Nov. 17, 18, and 19, 2023. To find out more about the Atascadero Fall Festival, go to atascaderofallfest.com
Photos by Rick Evans