An Atascadero Tradition since 1973

The Atascadero Colony Days Committee was created as a celebration of the founding of Atascadero. It began in 1973, when a small group of concerned citizens established the longest-running event in Atascadero — Colony Days.

Since then, the committee has grown into a 501(c)(3) organization run by a volunteer board of directors and a small army of volunteer members working to put on the event each year.

For many years, a small committee ran alongside support of the Atascadero volunteer firefighters and Atascadero Police, who picked up a lot of the labor each year.

The City of Atascadero, incorporated as a municipality five years after the inception of Colony Days, has continued to support the committee for 40 years now. That is a stark difference to the shutting down of the long-standing 4th of July event in 1983.

Liability and traffic issues were the among the reasons the Atascadero City Council wisely decided to end the 4th of July event.

Liability and traffic issues have faced the Atascadero Colony Days for all those years, with each year presenting new challenges and new solutions that the board members over the years have  overcome.

One of the biggest challenges for Colony Days is raising the funds to put on the parade and festival. Well, most years raising money is the challenge. In 2006 and 2007 combined, Colony Days raised more than $110,000, but that iteration of the board also spent a combined $126,000, depleting reserves from $36,000 to $20,000. In 2008, much less was spent, but much less was raised, further depleting reserves to $13,500. Records were not readily available for some of the years between then and now, but expenses have continued to rise for Colony Days with liability insurance, marketing costs, storage, event rentals and more, and fundraising lacked.

Atascadero 4th of July Returns

In 2017, the 4th of July Bluegrass Freedom Festival began as a fundraiser for Colony Days and raised more than $2,000 for Colony Days and more than $2,000 for the Atascadero Printery Foundation.

The event brought thousands of people to Atascadero’s Lake Park, the long-standing home of the Atascadero 4th of July celebrations.

Admission to the event is free, and raises money for Colony Days through barbecue sales — this year serving chicken plates and hamburgers lakeside.

Other vendors will include Mexican food, roasted corn, shaved ice, A&W Rootbeer floats, Dave’s Hot Dogs, and the Printery Foundation  selling water, soda, beer and wine.

Through sponsors and sales, Colony Days relies on 4th of July to kick off the fundraising efforts to make the parade and festival in October a success.

The 4th of July is a significant date for Atascadero’s founding. E.G. and Mabel Lewis finalized purchase of part of the 40,000-acre Rancho Asuncion from J.H. Henry, which had been partitioned as 23,000 acres of Rancho Atascadero.

Anyone who has purchased a home or piece of real estate, the receipt of the deed is a momentous day. The purchase of the earth on which we celebrate 4th of July was the beginning of our community. From there, the city administration building, Printery building, Atascadero Inn, and other Civic Center buildings were erected as monuments to a utopian dream.

When we celebrate 4th of July in Atascadero, we celebrate more than the Declaration of Independence — we celebrate the establishment of Atascadero in 1913. When we celebrate 4th of July in Atascadero, we celebrate what began as a utopian dream and will end with our fingerprints on pages of its final story.

It will be a story of what we have done together and what we will do together. Much like many stories already — Kiwanis, Rotary, Elks, Moose, Friends of the Atascadero Library, Friends of Atascadero Lake, Atascadero Printery Foundation, Atascadero Greyhound Foundation, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts.

Supporting Colony Days

Many of our business community support these groups with financial contributions, as board members or volunteers, and more. Many of these groups support Colony Days in one way or another.

For the success of Colony Days to continue, community support must happen regularly and most importantly by those businesses that have seen long-standing success in Atascadero. We ask businesses that decades of success in Atascadero to band together to promise our future generations the joy and community that we have been given over the past 46 years, with a commitment to sponsor Colony Days.

With more and more events springing up as tourism becomes an exciting part of local economy, and with the long-lasting stigma that Colony Days is a City of Atascadero event, it cannot be overstated how important local support is for an event that needs to raise a minimum of $15,000 in sponsorships to cover the minimum expenses, and even more to raise the amount back to an appropriate annual reserve.