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Roundin’ up popular demand at local Gudgel Ranch

Cody and Jennifer Gudgel have built a new addition at their local Gudgel Ranch business, known as the Whiskey Lounge. They have hosted weddings and many other events at this growing venue, located just outside of Litchfield off historic Route 66. The business has attracted tons of people from surrounding local areas, including Macoupin County. Enquirer Democrat photo by Jackson Wilson.


Enquirer Democrat Reporter

Meanwhile, back at the Gudgel Ranch….big things are happening.

The growing venue, located just outside of Litchfield, has only been open for a year. However, it didn’t take long for business to take off for Cody and Jennifer Gudgel.

“We were completely booked throughout the first few months of this being in operation,” C. Gudgel said. “Then, we had a lot of Christmas parties when December hit.”

Realizing how quickly growth was transpiring, the Gudgels transformed an empty garage (all by themselves) into a new addition known as The Whiskey Lounge, which consists of gaming machines, a bar with a sunset window view, larger area, new bathrooms, an outdoor patio, beer garden, bags and much more. The project was obviously time-consuming, especially with all of the bookings having to be fulfilled, but the Gudgels finished the building in July and are completing the finishing touches.

Although wedding ceremonies are still the popular demand, Gudgel Ranch additionally hosts a yearly cooking competition as well as live music, cornhole tournaments, anniversary get-togethers, graduation celebrations, funeral dinners, class reunions and birthday parties.

“We’ve really expanded,” J. Gudgel said. “We’re also hosting a vendor event and I managed to get a total of 33 in comparison to 19 last year. We’re very excited about what’s to come here.”

The Gudgel Ranch has hosted crowds from many local areas, including Macoupin County.

“If you went around and asked people where they’re from when this place is packed, probably eight out of every 10 are from Carlinville or Raymond,” J. Gudgel said. “Panama, Virden, Springfield, Litchfield, Hillsboro and Staunton have become part of that common mix as well.”

“So many people are excited about this,” C. Gudgel said. “We also have had some motorcylists come through here so it’s been fun for us as well.”

The Gudgel Ranch Saloon is holding its fifth annual cookoff Sat., Sept. 16. The previous competitions mainly focused on ribs, but the 2023 rendition will feature other categories – chicken, chili and cocktails. The awards are: $500 and a trophy for the grand champion; $100 and a trophy for the rib champion; $50 and a trophy for the chili champion, chicken champion and rib runner-up; and a trophy for the cocktail champion and third place rib finisher. The event will take place on the large lawn that is located to the right of the Gudgel house at 14265 East 2nd Road.

J. Gudgel mentioned that she and Cody had to start planning for the sixth cookoff more than a year in advance because there were so many booked dates looming.

“September and October of 2024 is already locked up and gone,” said J. Gudgel. “April is as well. We don’t have very many dates left. Plus, I have a feeling that December is going to be booked out too because we have so many requests pouring in for Christmas parties [including two companies and two private]. We actually had planned to hold a New Year’s Eve bash but we can’t because a family wanted to use the venue for that holiday as well.”

Starting Sept. 14, the Gudgel Ranch will be hosting line dancing classes Thursday evenings for five weeks.

Since the Gudgels “have zero intention of adding a kitchen,” they have partnered with multiple local services, such as Fema’s, to provide catering.

Being parents of two young boys, the Gudgels are always striving to provide a high-quality family-friendly environment.
“We have areas where our kids go and build forts and other kids will join in and play on the patio with NERF guns or jump on a trampoline,” J. Gudgel said. “Pets are welcome too. We try our best to make everyone feel at home.”

The Gudgel Ranch was selected as the recipient of last year’s Rising Star Award, which is presented to the “biggest local booming business” by the local Chamber of Commerce.

“We just can’t thank enough everyone enough for their support,” said J. Gudgel. “We have received so many ideas and people have remained interested in seeing every improvement we have made here. This whole thing, including the brand-new parking lot, never existed before. So, we are grateful for everyone who has and are continuing to stick by us. We don’t even have a sign put up yet, but so many still know about us because of social media efforts.”

The Gudgels also respect other businesses and are doing plenty of research on what all is happening around the local community so they don’t interfere with other major events.

“We hold drawings, but ours is always after everyone else’s is over,” J. Gudgel said. “The same level of flexibility we try and incorporate with entertainment.”

“There’s a lot of business owners who work Saturdays and enjoy spending their Sundays off here with us,” C. Gudgel said.
“These people have the freedom to go wherever they want and they decide to keep coming here,”J. Gudgel said. “It’s such good vibes.”

According to a review posted by Great Rivers & Routes, “The country setting [of Gudgel Ranch Saloon] is great for rustic weddings and events and the site is located just off of historic Route 66.”

The business is additionally adding a specially fabricated beer wagon that will be available to rent for special off-site events.
All tables, chairs, linens, and decorations are provided for private events and can be rented off-site as well.

For more information, call 217-556-5063 or 217-246-7496.