From behind the counter of the wood-and-concrete bar, Jeanne Osteen produced a scrapbook of photos, one showing her father, Francis Corl, with a bear cub.
The family doesn’t know just how Francis got the cub, but they do know when – 1985. It became part of the carnival, riding a tricycle, where Corl was a foreman with State Line Rides.
By the 1990s, the bear became the inspiration for the bar that Corl purchased, at 102 E. Commercial St. He named it Bears Showtown USA.
“Dad was known as ‘Grandpa Bear,” Osteen said.
Photos of the carnival bear still adorn the walls, as do carved bears. In one corner, a stuffed bear wears a Chicago Bears jersey.
“I’m the Bears fan,” she said.
Corl owned the bar for more than a decade, and Osteen purchased it in 2010 from her siblings. Her daughter, Lacy Lewis, is the manager, and the family continues to carry on Corl’s sense of fun at the bar, which also serves as a social gathering spot in the village of about 600 people
“We’re laid back,” Lewis said.
Eclectic decorations can be found throughout the bar – an inflatable parrot hangs near a pool table, carved wooden helicopters sit on a shelf, and an art-deco-style glass lamp hangs above a couch. There’s also some gambling machines and pool tables for folks who want to test their skills, and luck.
On Sundays and Wednesdays, Jim Seeley brings in the karaoke machine, and bands play from 2 to 6 p.m. Sundays during the summer on an outdoor stage behind the bar.
The fun atmosphere continues year-round.
On Jan. 21, Bears Showtown staff brought 3 tons of sand in through a garage door at the back of the bar for a beach party.
“We can’t go to the beach, so we brought it to us,” Lewis said.
Lewis said that now that the weather is warming up, the bar’s backyard is open for garden parties.
In addition to the requisite beer, wine, liquor and soft drinks, Bears Showtown also offers themed food nights – Italian beef on Tuesdays, tacos on Wednesdays, and home-cooked meals on Fridays. On Sundays, breakfast is $5 for all you can eat.
Bears Showtown also does a lot for the community.
“We have free food available for the community on holidays, like St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas,” Lewis said.
Near a bulletin board by the front door, notes of thanks from Locks of Love can be seen in glass cases.
The bar’s dedication to Lyndon is shared by its patrons and employees.
Scott Holmberg of Lyndon knew Francis Corl, and helped build the roof on the bar.
“I like the crowd,” Holmberg said.
Scott Melvin of Lyndon, who does maintenance at the bar, has been coming to Bears for about 10 years.
“They’re kind of like my family,” Melvin said.
It’s a family that’s grown through the years, welcoming new faces and old friends with its own great big bear hug.
Address: 102 E. Commercial St., Lyndon
Hours: 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.
Find Bears Showtown USA, INC. on Facebook for more information.