White tents covered the historic Atascadero Sunken Gardens in a Tent City reenactment. The encampment relives the time period from 1914 to 1916, the beginning years of Atascadero Colony, when pioneering men and women left their homes and came west to start life anew. Locals dressed in period costumes, some homemade, to show the present residents the way things were when Atascadero was little more than a hope.

One of the costumed participants was freshman Emily Gillham. Emily carried an Italian-made accordion as part of her costume. On request, she would play such songs as “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” The young lady said her piano teacher Megan Greenway, inspired her to learn to play the instrument.

Boy Scouts of America, Atascadero Troop 51, pitched their tent in the park and taught young and old alike the importance and versatility of knots. Scout Parent Glenn Small garbed in his Scout uniform said that he was pleased with how the festival has grown. 

“Tent City was just a little corner over by the side over there, you blink and you missed it, and now it’s the centerpiece out here. They really did a good job in promoting it,” said Glenn Small.

Involved with BSA for 44 years Eagle Scout Coach Don Luce said that the three troops in town consolidated and reinstated the original Atascdero Troop.

“I started troop 155 in 1994. We merged troop 55 and 226 in January 2016 to form Troop 51, the Historical Troop of Atascadero. It was formed in 1928,” said Don Luce.

Patrons curious about past land ownership could step in the Tent City Land Office and research the history of their particular parcel of Atascadero. 

“We’re helping people find their lots using the original survey map and we can find their lots based on the map, the block and the lot number,” said volunteer Seth Peek, owner and operator of S. Peek Painting.   

The records are a clear picture in the past to show how times have changed. Peek said that one house on Olmeda and Traffic Way originally went for $4,000 with a minimum structure cost of $2,500. The parcel was also originally zoned for livestock meaning the property could house a dairy cow right in the middle of town.  

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Volunteer Karen Peek, Century 21 Realtor, said that one of the most interesting things she found was the number of women who owned property in the founding days of the Colony. Karen said that Colony Founder, American magazine publisher, land development promoter, and political activist E.G. Lewis would advertise lots for sale in his women’s magazines. Karen said that she believed those advertisements led to the high amount of women owning land in the budding colony.

In the annual pie-eating contest, Esabella Nagorski and Kyle Shatwell tied for first place. This makes Kyle’s third time he has won first in the annual contest. Riley Jones, took second and Esabella’s brother Ryan Nagorski secured third place. 

Atascadero Colony Days “Sheriff Bob” Gentry, now in his 12th year of service, said the chocolate pies, donated by Food-4-Less, are a wink and a smile to the ongoing jest of Atascadero being a mudhole. The City gets its name from the Spanish verb ‘atascar’ which translates as ‘to bog down’ in other words to be stuck in the mud.