What to See at Picnic Day 108

Woman squats near horse in petting zoo
The Picnic Day petting zoo will showcase calves, lambs and baby goats from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Cole Facility. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

After two virtual Picnic Days, there’s a lot to see on campus at this year’s in-person event on Saturday, April 23. There are staples like the Battle of the Bands, chick hatching, the Fashion and Design Society Fashion Show and the Children’s Discovery Fair, plus much more. The students organizing our campus open house, believed to be the largest student-run event in the nation, this week released a schedule of events for the 108th Picnic Day.


Logo for Picnic Day: Rediscovering Tomorrow

“I’m thrilled that we’re back in person for our ‘Rediscovering Tomorrow’ theme for the day,” Chancellor Gary S. May said in a message in the Picnic Day program. “We’re showcasing our world class research, our experts and unique programs, all while giving you and your family an opportunity to discover and experience what we’re all about.”

The 2020 and 2021 Picnic Days were held virtually, so this year’s event will be new for many, even some of the students planning it.

“The bulk of our board has never experienced an in-person Picnic Day,” Amanda Jane Portier, chair of the Picnic Day Board of Directors, told UC Davis Magazine

For many, the day will start at the 9:30 a.m. opening ceremony, held at the grandstands on North Quad Avenue in front of Wickson Hall. An hour later, at that location, the Picnic Day Parade will kick off, led by Nam Tran as the marshal. He’s the professor of clinical pathology in the School of Medicine who helped UC Davis develop its own COVID-19 test in the early days of the pandemic. The parade’s more than 50 registered participants will travel through campus and into downtown Davis, ending at Third and A streets. The parade will be livestreamed with an American Sign Language interpreter.

People watch a fire truck drive by during a Picnic Day parade.
The opening ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. in front of Wickson Hall, and the parade will start there at 10:30. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)
Woman helps children paint with sand.
The Children’s Discovery Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the south lawn of Hoagland Hall. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Getting here, getting around

Updated April 19: Face coverings required on Unitrans buses. Beware a possible traffic delay at the intersection of La Rue/Anderson roads and Russell Boulevard, where a four-way stop was still in effect Tuesday (April 19) after a car crash damaged a signal the day before. The city was working as quickly as possible on a repair, a spokeswoman said. In the meantime, consider alternate routes.

Indoor events and animal exhibits may require the Daily Symptom Survey at their own discretion, which is available for both campus affiliates and guests. Face coverings are recommended but not required on campus, except for on Unitrans, which will operate an expanded weekend service (a printable route map and flyer is available).

Parking is free on campus all day.

See bugs, plants, animals and more

Students navigate through a dark room filled with laser beams.
Attendees can attempt to navigate through the laser maze from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Kemper Hall 1003. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Picnic Day will have a wide variety of exhibits, shows and more. Details are available on the Picnic Day website, which includes a printable program and schedule, a list of showtimes and a page highlighting features of the Children’s Discovery Fair.

Bug enthusiasts will be able to talk to Assistant Adjunct Professor of Entomology Bob Kimsey about the way insects are used in forensics, create maggot art, watch cockroach races, learn about honeybees, and can bring in bugs from their homes or gardens for identification.

Home gardeners can consult Yolo County master gardeners in the courtyard of the Plant and Environmental Science Building, get free strawberry plants to take home, learn about grassland seeds and ask questions of the “weed doctor.”


In addition to the popular Chemistry Show in Rock Hall (with four showtimes), a weather balloon will be launched in front of Hoagland Hall at 12:30 p.m. Attendees can try their hand at a laser mase in Kemper Hall 1003. Elsewhere, Roessler Hall 66 will play host to an Indiana Jones-themed parody to demonstrate physics: Raiders of the Lost Quark. And outside Bainer Hall, attendees can watch a live, controlled demonstration of a fire whirl.

Student athletes will be well-represented, with football, baseball, tennis and beach volleyball matchups throughout the day.

Attendees will be able to get up close and personal with a whole host of animals, like bats, adoptable kittens, raptors, pigeons and more. The cow-milking station will return, as will the petting zoo, both at the Cole Facility.


Small dogs race in the Doxie Derby.

There’s still time for four-legged companions to participate in the Doxie Derby and the Canine Medicine Club’s Frisbee Dog Contest — registration forms for both are available online.

Food options: Eateries, fundraisers

The Coffee House, along with the Tercero, Segundo and Cuarto dining commons and other campus eateries, will be selling food. Food trucks will be parked on the Quad, outside the Silo and elsewhere. Several student organizations, including the Aggie Baking Club, Japanese American Student Society, Project RISHI and more, will be selling baked goods and other items on the West Quad. The Peet’s in the Silo and ARC will be open.

For hours, locations and other details, see the full schedule.

Media Resources

Cody Kitaura is a News and Media Relations Specialist in the Office of Strategic Communications, and can be reached by email or at 530-752-1932.

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