Since its inception in 1909, Picnic Day has become the crown-jewel event of the UC system and the signature event of UC Davis. Believed to be the largest student-run event in the nation, Picnic Day showcases the richness of diversity and achievement at UC Davis and the surrounding community in the areas of research, teaching, service, and campus life. This year, the whole community celebrates its 104th year of tradition and success.
Picnic Day, the annual Open House for the University of California, Davis, is one of the largest student-run events in the nation. This hallmark event has been designed to showcase and celebrate the richness of campus life, the diverse achievements of UCD students, staff and faculty to provide a day of education, information and entertainment to all who attend. There will be more than 200 events throughout the campus and an estimated 75,000+ visitors attending this special event. This long-standing campus tradition began in 1909 when the University Farm invited the surrounding community to view their new dairy barn. Two thousand attended, bringing picnics to complement the coffee, cream and sugar provided by the University. Following the success of the 1909 picnic, the faculty of the University Farm continued to plan and sponsor the event until a student committee took over the task in 1912.
Through the years of Picnic Day history, in only five cases has the event been cancelled. In 1924, an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease among the cowherds caused the first cancellation of the event. In 1938, delayed construction of the gymnasium, which was needed to accommodate the ever-increasing number of participants, led to a second cancellation. During World War II, the Army Signal Corps controlled the campus and Picnic Day disappeared from 1943 to 1945. Since 1946, Picnic Day has been growing strong and now boasts an attendance of more than 70,000 people.
Emerging from humble beginnings as a tour of the University Farm’s new dairy barn, Picnic Day now offers a wide variety of entertainment and provides a host of opportunities for visitors to the Davis campus. Scroll through the timeline below to learn more about each year’s highlights.