Meal and a Show
THE FRENCH ARE CREDITED WITH DEVELOPING THE WORD “PICNIC.” IT FIRST APPEARED IN THE 1690S AND DESCRIBED AN EVENT SIMILAR TO TODAY’S POTLUCK DINNERS— VERY MUCH A SOCIAL AFFAIR. Picnics started as dinner gatherings where individuals brought a contribution to the meal. The word is derived from piquer, the French word for “to pick,” coupled with a nonsense word, nique.
By the 19th century the term came to mean dining outside. Variations in the spelling included “pic-nic,” and eventually rested on the contemporary “picnic.” By 1842, people were “picnicking” and had “picnicked.” The “k” was added to ensure the hard pronunciation of the “c.”
In the late 19th century, the Manor Woods in Buckeystown became a favorite spot for picnics and other outdoor activities for city dwellers. A popular annual picnic drew visitors from all over the county, not just from the City of Frederick. Manor Woods had a dining pavilion and an area for performances by bands, like Frederick Community Band Orchestra, which provided the entertainment on Aug. 31, 1887.
Having a performance area was essential for any picnic, as the 1880s were the heyday of community bands. By 1889, there were more than 10,000 bands throughout the country, primarily focusing on brass instruments. Community bands decreased in popularity following World War I, as a cultural shift due to the automobile and mass media drew the country’s attention elsewhere. Although there are only about 2,500 community bands scattered throughout the country today, they are still popular during patriotic events and holidays. Even today, many people still enjoy a concert offered by a community band while picnicking in the beautiful outdoors.