Picnic Day 104 - April 21, 2018

Alumni, students and friends enjoy Picnic Day 2015.

Last year's schedule

Friday, April 21
Saturday, April 22

2017 Picnic Day

Picnic Day by the numbers:

  • CAAA saw over 100 guests at our Alumni Wine Program Wine Tasting on Friday, April 21.
  • Over 350 guests attended our VIP Member Lounge.
  • 50 alumni, parents and friends joined CAAA and our Give Day colleagues as an entry at the Picnic Day Parade.
  • Nearly 2,000 guests attended our Authentic Aggies Zone at the Buehler Alumni Center.
  • CAAA had nearly 75 individuals participate in our first ever Aggie drone photo!

Picnic Day is one of UC Davis’ most revered traditions for alumni, students, families, staff, faculty and the greater community.  This family-friendly event is free for all to come and experience the richness of diversity and achievement at UC Davis in the areas of research, teaching, service and campus life. With more than 200 events taking place throughout campus, Picnic Day serves as the university’s annual Open House and is a great time for Aggie alumni and their friends and family to come back to campus.

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Hatch Your Picnic Day Plan

In three decades, CAAA Executive Director Rich Engel ’90, Cred. ’91 has only missed one Picnic Day—but only because he was co-hosting the firstever New Orleans Picnic Day. Engel kicks off our alumni guide to planning the perfect Picnic Day with some of his favorite memories and personal tips.

Growing up in a rural community that was a long distance from my relatives made family reunions a very special occasion for me. The gathering of my brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins became a time for celebration and reflection. My first Picnic Day was in 1986 and my initial impression was that this was an extended family reunion, albeit with tens of thousands of my extended Aggie family. This will be my 29th year, and what has never changed is that Picnic Day is an event to bring the next generation of Aggies to and get kids excited about higher education and everything UC Davis offers the world.

I believe what is most important about Picnic Day, and what this year’s theme speaks to, is that this signature event is still about the Aggie family first. Picnic Day stayed strong through a period when other university tradition programs disappeared. When we experienced attendance challenges, particularly from 2007-09, this university made a commitment to re-focusing on our core, which is the Aggie family. That focus is what will keep this tradition going for the next 101 years.

Going to Picnic Day is a lot like visiting Disneyland. If you want to get the most out of it, you need a plan before you get there. There are so many things to see that you cannot expect to see them in all in one, two or three years. I still have yet to see many of the big ticket items, and I’ve been going for nearly three decades! If there’s one thing I’ve learned during that time, it’s to avoid falling into a set routine each year.

Plot Your Picnic Day Plan

One big lesson my family and I have learned over the years is that you really need to prioritize and map out your feature attractions beforehand:


For example, I would always position my family in front of Hart Hall to watch the parade so that we could sneak over to get in line for our chemistry show tickets and then return to watching the parade. If you’re sitting in the central quad, you can’t cross the parade route.

Explore the Outskirts

If you want to see events that are further from central campus, such as at the Equestrian Center or sports complexes, plan extra time to get out to those places.

Battle of the Bands

If you want a prime spot for Battle of the Bands, you’ll want to lay down your picnic blanket next to Spafford Lake by at least 1:30 p.m.

Zone Out

The CAAA Member VIP Zone returns to the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center, where you can enjoy free snacks, respite from the elements, and get goodies from our partners. It’s also a comfortable meet-up spot for groups. Just remember it will close at 3 p.m.

Parking & Getting Around

Unfortunately there's no secret parking lot for CAAA members, so the early bird rule applies again. If you do drive, write down your parking location or take a photo with your phone. Taking Amtrak is the best alternative, and the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center is just a 15-minute walk through the Arboretum from the station. While Aggies are famous for our bicycling, biking is a less-than-ideal mode of transportation on Picnic Day because navigating the crowds can be difficult and unsafe—there will be a lot of dogs, kids, and strollers to watch out for. Better to wear your most comfortable shoes and prepare for a lot of walking.

  • Rain: Old sneakers and galoshes are recommended, as is a second pair for backup.
  • Shine: Supportive sandals that fasten are better than flip-flops.
Picnic Day Breakfast

CAAA will no longer be hosting the Picnic Day Breakfast so we encourage you to join us at the parade!

Children 0-18

Bring portable diversions and snacks for waiting in line. Bring earplugs for little ones who might be overwhelmed by the noise level. Dress younger kids in bright colors. You’ll spot them faster if you’re separated. As an additional step, some parents choose to put their phone number on their kids with child safety temporary tattoos. Also take a photo of the kids that morning (in what they’ll be wearing) on your phone. If your children are younger, make an early trip to the Lost Children’s Booth at Hoagland Hall so they will know where to go, and to take advantage of the child identification system. If your kids are older, both the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center and Vanderhoef Quad are good places to designate as a meet-up spot. Typically, when taking kids younger than 9 years old, it’s best to wrap up the day by noon. The ARC Pavilion and Peter Rock Hall (formerly known as Chem 194) are not stroller-friendly. If you plan to attend events in either location, you’ll need to park or lock your stroller nearby. After parking your stroller, remember to remove anything valuable. Bring something to cover the seat, to protect it from getting too hot under the sun.

Going as a Group

Agree as a group to a manageable number of “mustdo” activities, so no one is disappointed by missing their favorite attraction.

See You There

Please visit our website and Facebook page for updates and event details. You can also pre-order this year’s Picnic Day shirt. I look forward to seeing you in the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center or on Vanderhoef Quad, and wish every member of the Aggie family a wonderful 101st Picnic Day.