Tent City is a re-enactment of 1916 Atascadero when residents lived in tents while waiting for their homes to be built. The tent owned by Atascadero’s founder E.G. Lewis had electricity and all the comforts of home. Actors will “perform” during the Colony Days celebration on Saturday, Oct. 6 and at a few other events related to Colony Days.
Tent City grew from nine small tents and two large ones, which showed residential camp life, a school and a land office. It also is a little community that includes the Land Office, Ice Cream Parlor, a working Blacksmith, architect John J. Roth, Atascadero’s first business Atascadero Mutual Water Company, agriculture/apples, Mercantile, Atascadero News outlet, diner, Red Cross, a barbershop and the Federated Church Atascadero.
For the second year in a row, the Tent City re-enactment will take place in the Sunken Gardens along El Camino Real. Tent City was moved from its original location along Atascadero Creek off of East Mall because of the construction of the pedestrian bridge connecting downtown Atascadero with Colony Square.
“[This year’s] event in the Sunken Gardens was an experiment that yielded a lot of great pluses,” Tent City organizer Dianne Greenaway said. “[Tent City] became the visual core of the Sunken Gardens celebration, making us easy to find. The ‘city square’ lent itself to a lovely feeling of community for our little Tent City, lending it to just hanging out. We had the vibrant energy of our local dance school added in as ‘newsies’ as well as performing from the ‘Newsies’ musical.”
Actors of all ages are sought to portray different citizens of Atascadero from the city’s beginning in 1913. Rehearsals for Atascadero’s Colony Days re-enactment will take place Tuesday, Aug. 21 with an informational meeting and potluck in the Community Church of Atascadero’s Fellowship Hall at 5:30 p.m. This is for all actors and parents/guardians.
The rehearsals will take place every Tuesday following the informational meeting through Oct. 2 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Community Church of Atascadero United Church of Christ at 5850 Rosario Ave.
During the class, actors will learn Atascadero history, period dances and songs and acting techniques while perfecting their
characters.
Greenaway, who started Tent City in 2003, said she is seeking families who would like to be a part of Tent City together.

“We will engage in the culture of the period, singing songs and learning some dances,” Greenaway said. “We also welcome entire families to join in. Becoming ‘history’ together is a great experience.”

While anyone can attend the classes on Tuesday, those who do must be committed to taking on the responsibility of developing a character role, which will be more merged with exhibitors this year. However, if someone is interested in being a part of Tent City, but can’t join the first week, arrangements may be made with Greenaway.
“We always welcome newsies who will go out in pairs to sell newspapers during Colony Days,” Greenaway said. “I’m looking for someone high school age or older to work at the Caladero exhibit, which was created by the Atascadero Land  Preservation Society/Atascadero Native Tree Association, to work under their supervision with an apple press and apple
slice experience.”
While actors are a big part of Tent City, people helping out behind the scenes are also needed. To find out how you can be a part of Tent City, go to ColonyDays.org or contact Greenaway at 805-712-3947 or
diannegreenaway@gmail.com.

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