History of the Annual Summer Picnic
The Illinois Senate has held the Annual Picnic since inception. Originally a one day event where we enjoyed burgers and hot dogs, it has grown and evolved immensely. The Saturday golf outing was participated by nearly all in attendance but age and lack of golfers has dwindled that number, Bar-Burgers, an activity begun by the non-golfers slowly crept into the main Saturday attraction and today the vast majority attend a local establishment of “flavor or unique quality” to partake in lunch.
The first picnic was held in September. President Bernie Storjohann #7902 had taken a job with the University of Illinois in Chicago as Chief Landscaper and was in need of a place to live in the area. Jim O’Connell #5046 was in real estate and found a farm for Bernie to rent. Wanting to show off his new home, Bernie hosted our first picnic on September 29, 1968. This also was the first project of the fledgling Illinois Senate. The Picnic was traditionally held in the hometown of the incoming President. This held until 1973 when “open bidding” became popular. The date was set to correspond with the changing of the Presidents as the fourth weekend of July during Chuck Fries #18344 tenure. It was also for many years only one day and served hamburgers and hot-dogs. Today, although an “open bid” it has become traditional for the Picnic to be held in the area of the outgoing President as it is their close-out meeting. The event has grown from the one day event to a full week-end and even a Thursday “early hospitality”. No longer an outdoor event under a tent or pavilion, the comforts of air-conditioning have demanded different accommodations. Even the policy required pool is often times no longer used as once seen.
Below we list the locations of the Picnics as held throughout the years. With notable firsts and historical footnotes:
1968 – Storjohann Farm
1971 – Rantoul
1974 – Pekin
1975 – Kewanee – Life Membership began
1977 – Moline – President Tiney Nix donated the large “tree trunk” gavel to the Illinois JCI Senate to be passed on to all succeeding Presidents for use during their term. This gavel is still being used today.
1978 – The Senate attempted to form a Credit Union
1979 – Under President KOBLE, the Summer Picnic activities were changed to have the Business Meeting on Saturday either proceeding the picnic or following the picnic, thus enabling participants to return home on Saturday evening or early Sunday morning.
1980 – It was during Fred’s term that the major emphasis of activity was centered around visiting the other neighboring states. Delegations from the Illinois Senate made numerous visits to Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky Senate functions during the year in order to establish strong lasting friendships, which in turn led to the formation of the Mid-America Institute (Region V) within the US JCI Senate. The newsletter went out only to members.
1981 – It was determined to maintain the original “Standing Abe” Senate pin but also design a new pin each year for trading.
1982 – Blue & orange shirts were established as official shirt
1986 – The special Illinois JCI Senate logo was created with a side view of Abe within the Jaycee shield.
1987 – Each administration began theme slogans for their year with “Wally’s World” being the first.
1991 – Lincoln – 25th Anniversary shirt was approved and began tradition of new style shirt for each President
1995 – Centralia – Bar-burgers began
1996 – Galesburg
1997 – Morton
1998 – Centralia
1999 – Springfield
2000 – Huntley
2001 – Carlyle
2002 – Danville
2003 – Charleston
2004 – East Peoria
2005 – Bloomington
2006 – Kewanee
2007 – Carlyle
2008 – Morton
2009 – Okawville
2010 – Danville
2011 – Cary
2012 – Savoy
2013 – Springfield
2014 – Carlyle
2015 – Danville
2016 – Kewanee
2017 – The 50th Anniversary of the Senate was done at a banquet style “picnic” in Springfield hosted by the Past Presidents
2018 – Springfield
2019 – Savoy
2020 – Carlyle – Held under pandemic restrictions beautiful weather enabled great boat rides.
2021 – Springfield