History of Bar Burgers

History of Bar Burgers

Bar Burgers has actually been a long-standing phenomenon of the annual Senate Picnic. For years, those who did not partake of the annual “chasing of the little white ball” (aka golf) would sit around poolside imbibing in liquid refreshments. The question would be raised by one or more in the group, “where are we going for lunch?” These individuals would then break into several groups doing their own “lunch thing.” At the Picnic in 1996 hosted in Centralia, Bar Burgers was officially born. A group headed by John and Bev Olson decided they needed a good, greasy bar burger with a big slice of raw onion and plenty of cold beer. Ray Ainslie, picnic chairman, was asked if there was a good place to go, and he suggested the Poplar Place down the street. The group proceeded to walk into the back door of the bar, virtually taking over the small establishment. Since this time, although not an official requirement, Bar Burgers has been a part of every bid for the annual picnic. The event has grown enough that planning for Bar Burgers is not an easy task. Care is now taken to assure the establishment can seat the large numbers, provide good food quickly and, not at all the least of concerns, ambiance befitting a Bar Burger event.

1995 Poplar Place———————- Centralia
The birthplace of Bar Burgers. Walking distance
from the hotel featured the “Poplar Burger.”

1996 Cherry Street Brewing Company—– Galesburg
Our second bar burgers attracted even
more people!

1997 Schooner’s Bar——————– East Peoria
The coolest place to be the entire picnic.

1998 Hoffman House——————— Hoffman
First time an official ‘sign in” sheet was used.
Tongue-in-cheek competition between the golfers
and Bar Burger participants was won by the
Bar Burger group.

1999 Douger’s Sports Bar————— Chatham
Began taking a collection to sponsor a hole at the
Larry Olsen Memorial Golf and the Bubba Golf Outing
for the Illinois Jaycees Charitable Foundation.

2000 Parkside Bar———————- Huntley
Co-owned by a past Huntley Jaycee President
and home of the annual Turkey Testicle Festival.
By far, the largest Bar Burger to date.

2001 Blue Room————————- New Minden
It’s not a bar, it’s an experience!” And what an
Experience it was!

2002 Sarges Tap———————— Danville
Cheeseburgers in Paradise (Jimmy Buffet style).
Golf was rained out so we had all the golfers there
as well.

2003 E.L. Krackers——————— Charleston
Smiling in the South End; over $1400 was collected
for the ILJC golf sponsorships to date.

2004 The Burger Barge—————— East Peoria
Crowded but unique. Some came by boat!

2005 Windjammer———————— Bloomington
Non Senate patrons watched us go “Beer Nutty in

2006 Pioneer Pub & Grub—————- Kewanee
JDO impersonator (AKA Donna Ward) kept the tradition
going,complete with a cigarette and beer.

2007 Legion Bar and Restaurant——— Carlyle
Home of the “Swamp Deer.” Ray and Melodie served
us in style.

2008 T-N-T Sports Bar—————— Morton
Travis Barker let us in a toast to his mom, Sam.

2009 Addieville Community Club——— Addieville
A return visit to the Blue Room made us appreciate the
clean spaciousness of the club!

2010 Dockside Boat Club—————- Danville
The lake breeze was blowing away from us, but the
rain wasn’t.

2011 The Tracks———————— Cary
The golfers were rained out, so we had a huge crowd,
and huge burgers! We have collected over $3000 for
Sponsorships for the ILJC.

2012 Joe’s Brewery——————— Champaign
Thick burgers, hot fries, and a private room with a decor
that was reminiscent of the original bar burgers but with
many more people!

2013 The Pub at Vinegar Mall———– Springfield
” Horseshoes”, a Springfield cuisine creation, was a
featured menu item. Don Falls surprised all by joining
the group in what would be his last picnic.

2014 Bretz’s Wildlife Winery———– Carlyle
Not your “greasy spoon” but good food and a zoo
hanging from the walls!

2015 The Grotto———————— Danville
Leaving the hotel we took a nice drive around Lake
Vermilion to the Grotto where we had a choice is sitting
in the AC or roughing it outside in the heat watching
our burgers cooking. Danville was the host.

2016 Cerno’s————————– Kewanee
Bar Burgers was held at Cerno’s where they had an
imported bar. The bar and grill was built in 1898 making
the first time we held the event at a place older than any
of us. Kewanee did an excellent job

2017 Chesapeake———————– Springfield
For our 50th anniversary ALL of us went to bar burgers
at Chesapeake Bay in Springfield. We had a buffet and
had our largest collection ever to support both golf outings
AND Camp New Hope.

2018 Top Cats—————————Springfield
72 Senators and guests enjoyed great food and great weather.
Another collection resulted in sponsorship for the Bubba!

2019 Pia’s Sports Bar and Grill—-Champaign
The 25th anniversary was suitably hosted by Bev and John Olson.
The weather was perfect for an outdoor patio setting. Collection
for hole sponsorships and a donation for the Champaign-Urbana
Jaycees who helped at the Picnic

2020 Bretz’s Wildlife Winery—–Carlyle
The first repeat visit to a Bar-Burger Location! Covid-19 threatened
to cancel the Picnic all together but thankfully 
it went off as scheduled
with a lot of changes to tradition. Attendance 
was down but
considerably higher than the presence of a pandemic would 
make you
think. Original location planned was different but circum
brought us back to Bretz’s who served up a buffet of burgers 
and fries
that were well enjoyed.  Collections were suspended as we 
looked to
next year and better times.

2021 Weebles—–Springfield
Ninety-four Bar-Burger participants were joined by several of the golfing group at quaint sports bar located on Springfield’s north side. Home of the 1/2 pound cheese burger. Traditional hole sponsor collections were conducted.

2022 Bunny’s Tavern—-Urbana
Bunny’s has been a fixture in downtown Urbana since it was established in 1936. They have a motto: “Thru these doors pass some of the greatest people in the world, also some Cub and Cardinal fans”. Seventy-nine (counting golfers who got done early) attendees. Annual scholarship collection netted $380.

2023 Bunny’s Tavern—-Urbana

Why not? It was announced that accumulative donations from Bar Burgers has placed the group in the Gol Level of donors to the Illinois Foundation.