One parent alumna’s story about Picnic Day

A flock of sheep graze on Hutchinson field
A flock of sheep graze on Hutchinson Field during the 2008 Picnic Day

Written by Claudia Capurro, Alumna and Aggie parent

After a long cross-country drive from Maryland, we emerged from under the railroad tracks into the town of Davis. Frozen yogurt was the rage and Birkenstocks were popular. I started my freshman year at UC Davis in 1978. UC Davis had the same charm back then as now but with a much smaller student population. It was an adjustment but I finally got in the groove. For me, Picnic Day came and went. I attended a few times but I did not get excited about going until after I graduated. Why did I wait so long? My first Picnic Day as an alum was spent at the Rodeo. Yes, UC Davis had a rodeo back then. My boyfriend at the time, who had never participated in rodeo, decided that he needed to sign up for all the events. Not only did he do well, he was awarded All Around Cowboy! We celebrated by eating dinner at Cattlemen’s in Dixon, of course!

Present day: Now as an alumna, I never anticipated that my one and only would end up at UC Davis. I was so excited to come back to my beloved UC Davis and enjoy campus again! I have attended every Picnic Day with my daughter since 2015 until a certain virus entered the scene, giving Zoom a whole new meaning.

What is Picnic Day? Picnic Day is the largest student-run event in the nation. It is a time for UC Davis to proudly show off. It began back in 1909 when the surrounding community was invited by University Farm to view a new dairy barn. The university provided coffee, cream and sugar and 2,000 visitors attended with their picnics. The students took it over in 1912. Throughout the years the event has only been cancelled five times for various reasons including a hiatus from 1943-45 for World War II. The event has grown to 75,000 attendees and 200 events.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, 2020 Picnic Day was a small online event. But for 2021, the students are hard at work, discovering silver linings and preparing a robust virtual experience. Events will include the Cal Aggie Alumni Association’s Pancake Breakfast, a virtual parade, the Children’s Fair, featuring craft tutorials and coloring pages for the whole family, and many more favorite activities. Be sure to join us on April 17th for this free, family-friendly celebration of our university's achievements in teaching, research, service, and campus life.

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