Aggie Pride in Overdrive: Picnic Day, Give Day and Football

The Doxie Derby at Picnic Day.
The Doxie Derby is a Picnic Day staple. (Jason Spyres/UC Davis)


Don’t let today’s rain fool you: The weather is supposed to be just fine for Picnic Day. Weather Underground is forecasting sunshine and a high temperature of 78 degrees, with zero chance of rain.

This weekend is all about traditions old and new at the same time:

  • Our 103rd Picnic Day, Saturday (April 22), coinciding with our first Give Day, starting at noon Friday (April 21), our invitation to faculty and staff, and all alumni and friends of UC Davis to consider making gifts to the Annual Fund, a college or school — or any of a number of other funds.
  • Picnic Day Practice and Kids Fest celebrating our football program’s illustrious Division II past and our new outlook with a new coach — alum Dan Hawkins — for our 11th season in Division I.

Picnic Day: Growing Together

Picnic Day 2017 leaf logo

Activities begin at 8 a.m., and the opening ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the parade grandstand on North Avenue across from Wickson Hall. Then, at that same spot, the Picnic Day Parade will step off at 10, winding its way through campus and downtown. Announcers will be stationed at the North Avenue grandstand, at Second and D streets, on F Street in front of PDQ Fingerprinting, and at Third and C streets.

This year’s parade marshals are Bryan Enderle, lecturer in chemistry, recipient of the ASUCD Excellence in Education Award and the Interfraternity Council Teacher Appreciation Award; and Isao Fujimoto, founder of the Community Development program and Asian American Studies program, and who played a role in the creation of the Davis Food Co-Op and Davis Farmers Market.


Most Picnic Day events are free, starting at 8 a.m. with water polo alumni games in Hickey Pool (brrrr!) and Breakfast Around the World in front of the International Center, where Global Affairs will offer a sampling of breakfast treats from around the world.

The day kicks into high gear at 9, with exhibitions and activities that run the gamut from Biotechnology Experiments (extracting DNA from strawberries and making cheese the biotech way), Anthropalooza and Adventures in Math and Stats, to Pie the PreMed, Popcorn Popping and Insect Scavenger Hunt.

Animal events include a Petting Zoo (calves, lambs, goats) and the American Fisheries Society Live Fish Display, and opportunities galore to find your next pet (available from a number of rescue organizations), and marvel upon seeing dogs run fast and jump and catch in the Bay Racers Flyball Demonstration and Frisbee Dog Contest. And don’t forget the Doxie Derby, 1-3 p.m. in The Pavilion at the ARC.

Other highlights:

  • Chemistry Show — Tickets are free and will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis in front of the show’s venue, Rock Hall, starting at 9 and 11:45 a.m. The 9 a.m. distribution is for the 10 and 11:30 a.m. shows, and the 11:45 a.m. distribution is for 1 and 2:30 p.m. shows. Shows are in Rock Hall.
  • Joy of Writing: The University Writing Program Creates Fun With Words! — Write on the Writing Wall and play a word on the biggest Scrabble board you’ve ever seen. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Voorhies Hall (southeast corner).
  • Materials Magic Show — The Material Advantage Student Chapter presents this show for all ages. 11 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., 123 Sciences Lecture Hall.
  • Amazing Atmosphere Show — Half-hour shows at noon, and 2 and 4 p.m., 113 Hoagland Hall. Weather Balloon Launches at 11 a.m., and 1 and 3 p.m., at the front entrance to Hoagland Hall.
  • Cooperage Demo — Watch a master barrel maker at work, noon-2 p.m., courtyard, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.
  • The Children’s Discovery Fair runs from noon to 4 p.m. on the Cruess Hall lawn and the Battle of the Bands starts at 2 p.m. on the north side of Mrak Hall.

Other entertainment is scheduled at five venues: Quad, ARC and Rock Hall Lawn (starting at 11 a.m.), Cruess Hall Lawn (starting at 11:20 a.m.) and Vanderhoef Quad (starting at 12:30 p.m.).

Give Day: Every Aggie Counts

Students in UC Davis T-shirts, cheering.
"Let's go, Ags!" Let's make our first Give Day a rousing success. Make it part of your Picnic Day!

Staff and faculty, alumni and everyone in the Davis community: If you’re part of the UC Davis faithful, we can bet you’re in a Picnic Day mood — maybe you’re coming to our annual open house, or maybe you are too far away and you’re simply remembering Picnic Days of the past and how this event showcases all the great things this university has done and continues to do for students and the world.

So, as you think about Picnic Day, we’d like to encourage you to also think about UC Davis Give Day — our first such campaign, running from noon Friday to 5 p.m. Saturday, a 29-hour fundraising drive to benefit students, programs and initiatives in all of our colleges and schools, Undergraduate Education, Graduate Studies and Intercollegiate Athletics, and in many other sectors of the university, including the Office of Research, UC Davis Health, UC Davis Library, Arboretum and Public Garden, Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, and Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

Give Day includes more than 50 challenge gifts — pledges that will kick in once a certain number of people make donations to particular funds. “Our goal is to get as many supporters as we can to participate, and these challenges are a wonderful way to encourage members of our community to join us,” said Shaun Keister, vice chancellor of Development and Alumni Relations. “It really shows the power we have, as a group, to transform our community, our state and beyond. Every donation, pooled together, makes a big difference.”

Donations can be made through the Give Day website:, or send a text (UCDavis, all one word) to 51555, for a link to the website.

Running totals will be posted leaderboard style to encourage friendly competition — and to spur the gifts that are needed to activate the various challenge gifts. For example, after 10 donations to the Center for Population Biology Postdoctoral Fellowship, Vice Provost Maureen Stanton, a professor of evolution and ecology, will release her $2,500 pledge to the fund.

Also, spread the word via social media, and click open the Give Day website to see what other people are saying: Use the hashtags #UCDavisGiveDay, #EveryAggieCounts and #TogetherWeAddUp.

Picnic Day Practice and Kids Fest

The place, Howard Field, next to historic Toomey Field, where the Aggies had a spectacular run of winning seasons in the program’s Division II era. This Saturday’s activities will pay tribute to that era, while also looking ahead to the 2017 season with coach Hawkins, who played fullback for UC Davis in 1981 and ’82 — two of the Division II Aggie teams that won (or shared) 20 Northern California Athletic Conference championships in a row, 1971-90.

Everyone’s invited to watch the team’s last spring practice, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, alongside the Kids Fest, featuring games and bounce houses. After practice ends, the players and coaches will stick around to run drills with the youngsters in attendance, and sign autographs.

The Aggies have three preseason games, one of them at home: Saturday, Sept. 9, vs. San Diego. Come to the Picnic Day Practice and Kids Fest to pick up a poster showing the whole schedule. Also, family passes and season passes will be on sale. Ticket information is available online.

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