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Celebrating Community Picnics

The excitement, energy and companionship around community picnics has ensured their longevity.

Community Picnics in Central Alberta can be traced through oral stories, written memories and photographs.

They were well-organized events that stretch beyond eating a meal outside. Featured games such as horseshoes, croquet, and tag, were interspersed with sporting events such as high jump, long jump and foot races.

large floral print (purple, blue, white, green) and black & yellow checkered vintage dress on mannequinvintage baseball uniform, bat, glove, and horseshoe

Participants would train for weeks in preparation, as the winners at these community picnics would go on to represent their communities at provincial sporting events. There would be prizes to be won.

Sports Competition

In the 1920's, when Dr. Bill Parson was a youth, he won 20 cents when he placed second in a high jump competition. When he went to Provincials, he was told that the cash prize made him a professional athlete and not an amateur one. Thankfully Red Deer school inspector W.J Maclean was at the event and was able to make his case.

Who are the Parsons? A look at the history of the Parsons Clinic (Red Deer Express - June 27, 2012) >>

If the picnic was being held near a lake, swimming, boat races and fishing derbies would be included. Everyone would contribute to the potluck, where tables of potato salad, sandwiches and local signature dishes would overflow. The entire event would be finished off with a baseball game. For those who weren't ready to go home, a large bonfire was built where storytelling and singing took place.

black and white photo, group at picnic

Portrait of the Red Deer Real Estate Association at their First Annual picnic in Gaetz Park, Red Deer, Alberta. 1912. P4399, Photo courtesy of the Red Deer & District Archives.

When the weather is suitable, consider having a small picnic in Heritage Square or in the green space surrounding the MAG!

There is space on both the north and south side of the building to spread out, with mature trees providing ample shade on a hot day. Choose to sit under Tim Van Horn's Canada 150 murals on the south, or Michael Down's 'Gallery Concept' mural on the north exterior of the building. Both provide plenty of visual interest!

maple leaf, heart, deer murals on exterior of brick buildingwomen walking on sidewalk, storefront mural on right

With the MAG being within walking distance of the Saturday Market, it's the perfect opportunity to check out the local vendors in the morning, have an outdoor brunch of goodies snagged at the market, followed with a visit to the MAG. We are open 10 am - 4:30 pm each Saturday, with our family friendly art drop-in, MAGnificent Saturdays, running from 1-4 pm. Our galleries are nice and cool for those days you need a break from the heat!

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