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By Karen Nikos-Rose on April 17, 2020

Written and compiled from many sources by Media Relations Intern and graduating senior Leigh Houck

Unfortunately, we can’t physically gather this year to watch dachshunds race, milk a cow, or celebrate the arts at UC Davis. As a graduating senior, I was particularly disappointed that my very last Picnic Day was canceled. Since I’m a member of the Draft Horse and Driving Club, my favorite Picnic Day activity is always being in the parade. I love waving to the crowd from the horse-drawn wagon festooned in blue and gold pompoms. Picnic Day always makes me feel especially proud to be an Aggie. 

This Saturday, April 18, would have been the 106th annual Picnic Day. Annual attendance at this open house for the university is over 70,000, but since Picnic Day has been canceled this year, there are virtual experiences and some history to share. In this first virtual Picnic Day, check out what you can do here. (You can play bingo and buy a T-shirt, and even hear the band, among other things. In the spirit of the moment, T-shirt proceeds  to health care workers at UC Davis). 

Not the first cancellation

These disappointing cancellations have happened before.  Picnic Day was canceled in 1924 due to hoof-and-mouth disease, and in 1938 because of delayed construction, and from 1943 to 1945 because of World War II. And now, in 2020, Picnic Day is canceled to prevent the spread of coronavirus. You can learn more about the history of Picnic Day here and browse a digital archive of historical Picnic Day photos here. Read a retrospective of Picnic Day by UC Davis Magazine here (and see some awesome photos too). 

fashion show photo
A past Picnic Day Fashion Show. But time marches on this year without the usual activities because of precautions and closures due to coronavirus. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Disappointed to miss the UC Davis Marching Band’s yearly parade performance? You really don’t have to. The persevering student musicians have recorded a rousing rendition of the Aggie Fight Song while sheltering in place. The recording was made by splicing individual recordings together. Listen to the recording and learn more here

Were you looking forward to appreciating the arts at Picnic Day? Perhaps the annual fashion show? You can still see beautiful UC Davis-made art and textiles online. Read about the Design Museum’s latest exhibition, Appreciation and Adaptation: Homage to Global Textiles, here. Want to reminisce about last year’s Picnic Day? Read about art exhibits from Picnic Day 2019 here

While this virtual Picnic Day may not be quite the same, it offers a comforting sense of Aggie community in this socially distanced time. And take heart: the 106th annual Picnic Day is already rescheduled for April 17, 2021. 

Nicole Deacon, picnic day chair, was very disappointed to miss her final picnic day too, but knew it was necessary.  She put it this way in an interview with UC Davis Dateline:

“As a graduating senior who chose UC Davis after attending Picnic Day my senior year of high school, I was at first very upset that I won't be able to see this through,” she said.

“This pandemic has a put a lot into perspective regarding things we can and cannot change.” — Nicole Deacon, UC Davis picnic day chair

 I've realized that the spirit of Picnic Day is what makes it so special to campus and the community, and that's something that nothing can take away.”