The Moonshine Lunch Run isn’t your typical gathering of motorcycle riders. For starters, it
happens in the middle of nowhere: Moonshine, Illinois, population 2. It happens at a place
that’s hard to find: unless you have the coordinates, GPS won’t get you to Moonshine. It
happens in early spring when the weather is usually cold or wet, and often both. It’s never been
and never will be a commercial event, so there are no sponsors to promote its existence.
Moonshine is a just bunch of people who like to ride motorcycles long distances – often thousands
of miles – to be in the company of other people who like to do the same. And, in keeping with
tradition, they have a hamburger. That’s about it.
So how did this one–of–kind annual rider gathering get started? Riders can thank a one−of−a−kind long
distance rider named Terry Hammond. Terry was a farmer from Casey, Illinois, who loved to rack up
miles on a motorcycle. “When I’m riding around for 16 hours a day on a tractor,” Terry said, “I’m
dreaming of where I’m going to go on a motorcycle.”
Back in 2004, Terry was looking ahead to spring planting and feeling a little down. Once farming
started, motorcycling would end for him. The camaraderie with other riders he loved so much would
have to wait until summer. But all those hours on a tractor gave him time to think, and Terry got an idea.
He posted an invitation on a rider forum. If any riders cared to join him for lunch – in rural southeastern
Illinois, in early spring – he was buying. His local friends thought the idea was crazy, but Terry knew there
were riders who would “get it.”
Jerry Wagner of Morganfield, Kentucky, was the first. He rode all the way from Kentucky. He went down
half the gravel roads in Clark County before he finally found the place Terry wanted to meet, Moonshine
Store. Jerry fessed up to Terry about getting lost. They shared a laugh, and then they got acquainted over
Moonburgers. The Moonshine Lunch Run was born!
In 2005, Terry sent out the same invitation and more than 30 riders from 6 states showed up. The next year
more than 400 riders from over a dozen states showed up. Year after year, word spread and the numbers grew.
Getting to Moonshine involves effort and commitment that people who have not ridden there don’t always
understand. One year, on the day before Moonshine, Terry received an email from a guy asking him to
reschedule the event since the weather was so cold and wet. Terry replied that he would, but he didn’t know what
he would tell the 300 riders who already arrived from 29 states including Maine, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona….
People who ride to Moonshine meet other riders who come on every kind of motorcycle out there. They see old
friends and remember good times. They make friends and create new memories. Some sleep in tents, others in
motel rooms. CMA Chapter #836 provides a “Blessing of the Bikes” and the people who ride them. Some riders
enjoy an elephant ear sandwich, a sweet roll or two (or three), or a bowl of chili. All of them enjoy a Moonburger.
Moonshine isn’t a competition, but there are some records out there. In 2008, Pete Rogers from Oasis, British
Columbia, rode 2,196 miles for a Moonburger, so far the longest distance ridden to Moonshine. (Here is a picture
of Pete’s bike on the way.) In 2011, 1600 motorcycles and 1800 people showed up over a rain−soaked morning
and sunny afternoon, and 2068 Moonburgers were served. In 2017, 3362 Moonburgers were served on a
beautiful sunny day. Those are all records, too.
Terry conceived of the Moonshine Lunch Run as a fun event to bring riders together. Through his generous
example, it also became a way of supporting worthy causes. Each year, participants donate many thousands of
dollars that help people in crisis, support music education, provide hope for orphans and deliver crucial
community services. This giving spirit continues the tradition that Terry started and that makes Moonshine