About the Colony

Tuesday means barbecue and band music in Atascadero

Lon Allan
Lon Allan

It is Tuesday in Atascadero.

What that has come to mean is this is the day many local folks enjoy eating a meal in the park cooked by one service group and served by another, before listening to everyone’s favorite group of musical ambassadors, the Atascadero Community Band.

The event is proof positive of how good ideas can grow into something wonderful, especially for small-town America.

Atascadero is never so dear to me as these Tuesday nights, when everyone seems to come together in the park for friendly conversations about everything from catching up on family matters to checking out how low lake the is.

For those who don’t go there, the lake is gone. But that just gives us more to talk about: “Do you think it’ll be a wet year?” “Is it true it might be an El Niño rain season?” “Can the lake fill up with one normal season (about 17 inches) of rainfall?”

I think it was Mark Twain who said if it were not for the weather, 97 percent of us wouldn’t have anything to talk about.

This event could be a teachable moment in civics class. It demonstrates how a person with a good idea — in this case two people, Lee Swam and the late George Beatie — can have such a positive and long-lasting impact on their community.

The event got started about 15 years ago when Swam, who owned a bed-and-breakfast facility at the lake, and Beatie, conductor of the Atascadero Community Band, took the idea to the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce, who put things in motion.

Now it is a well-oiled machine as the Atascadero Elks Lodge cooks the meals, approximately two dozen nonprofit groups sell tickets in advance and serve on their respective nights, and the chamber handles all the little details of getting the word out, keeping the lines moving, ordering the eating trays and more. Each nonprofit makes money, as do the Elks and the Chamber.

And then everyone takes the short hike up the hill with their lawn chairs in hand and sits down to listen to wonderful music — this year featuring guest conductors of the Atascadero Community Band.

Tuesday night, Atascadero Rotary is the featured civic organization, which, I believe, was one of the very first sponsors so many years ago.

There are only four Tuesdays left, and then it is all over for the year. The barbecue is served from 5 to 7 p.m. and the band plays from 7 to 8 p.m.