The Hannibal Arts Council is proud to have sponsored the Folklife Festival for 41 years. It has become a mainstay in Hannibal’s ever-growing schedule of festivals and special events. There is rarely a lack of finding something to do in Hannibal, if you are looking it. The Folklife Festival is one of many examples of community-supported and community-created events that also draw in visitors from a wide radius around Hannibal. We are first and foremost about creating events for the enrichment of area residents, but we cannot deny that festivals and special events also attract visitors, add to our economy and help develop our cultural tourism offerings.
Recently, arts organizations in Hannibal joined 341 diverse communities and regions across the country to participate in the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States. Specific results from the Hannibal area concluded that the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $5.09 million in annual economic activity in the Hannibal area and over $506,000 in local and state government revenues. In addition, the nonprofit arts and culture industry leverages $3.7 million in event-related spending by its audiences. As a result of attending arts events, attendees often dine in local restaurants, buy gifts and souvenirs and stay overnight.
We in the arts always knew that the arts meant business, and now we have data to back it up. We concentrate on our programs, how we serve our community and how we can enhance the lives of those who participate. A great side effect that is occurring, sometimes without us concentrating on it, is the economic impact of what arts and culture organizations are adding to our community. This study demonstrates that the arts are an economic and employment powerhouse locally and across the nation. A vibrant arts and culture industry helps local businesses thrive and helps local communities become stronger and healthier places to live. Leaders who care about community and economic vitality can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts. Nationally, as well as locally, the arts mean business.
Richard Garey often portrays Mark Twain on stage, but as he has researched Hannibal’s people, history and its most famous resident during the last year and a half, he has been left with more creative inspiration.
“I’ve always been interested in poetry, but I’ve mainly written plays,” Garey said.
Through his research and while working on the Robards Mansion — built by a friend of Twain’s and purchased by Garey — Garey would pull out a notebook from his back pocket and jot down a few lines of poetry whenever creative inspiration struck. He eventually accumulated more than 100 poems, which he initially just read to his wife, Patricia.
“She encouraged me to publish them,” Garey said.
The result is “Hannibal at the Door: A Poetic Journey Through Mark Twain’s Hometown,” published in late July. In it, Garey shows readers Twain’s hometown through the series of poems, each of which showcases a small aspect of Hannibal as a whole through its river and residents.
“I’m excited to have my first book of poetry out,” Garey said. “The poems are kind of little vignettes.”
To go with the poems, Garey’s wife, an artist, painted illustrations for the book, and Garey’s son helped with the cover’s layout.
“This was truly a family project,” he said. “So far, I’ve gotten good feedback about it, and I’ve had to order more books because I’ve sold so many.”
Several people reviewed Garey’s book before it was released and praised it.
Garey “has captured that essence, that uniqueness, that Americanness, that very humanity and universality of Hannibal,” Vicky Crane, a retired lecturer at the University of Wisconsin, wrote of “Hannibal at the Door.” “Stabco” author Joe Schwartz wrote that he found Garey’s written voice similar to that of Twain’s.
“The Hannibal inspiration continues,” Garey said, adding that he’s also written a few more poems based on the historic city.
“Hannibal was always very important to Sam Clemens,” Garey said. “I am so lucky that each day I get to pursue my three great loves: history, theater and creative writing.”
Books may be purchased at the Planter’s Barn Theater, 319 N. Main St., and elsewhere around Hannibal.
— By Ashley Szatala
Imagine your child receiving two hours of free tutoring four days a week, right after school. Imagine the homework finished, checked and ready for the next day. Imagine a tutoring program that coordinates with teachers and principals to help students navigate emotionally or academically difficult times.
Welcome to Hannibal’s 19-year-old Caring Hands Tutoring Program, a nonprofit that rents space at Willow Street Church to provide free tutoring to Hannibal children.
Every parent knows about homework struggles. “I forgot.” “I hate the teacher.” “It’s not fair.” Tutoring, provided by hired college students and retired teachers, provides academic support in a bully-free zone.
When middle schooler LaPrince’s grades sank to D’s and F’s, Caring Hands knew something was amiss. He was acting out and losing ground academically. The CHTP director tracked down the cause. Bullying. Thus began a recovery plan involving the principal, teachers, grandmother and CHTP. Bullies faced consequences. Safe transportation was provided. Tutors encouraged him. By year’s end, he left his D’s and F’s behind.
Students struggle for a number of reasons: disruptive or broken homes, imprisoned or abandoning parents and even hunger. This grant- and donation-based program provides safety, academic support and food.
Overworked parents see their children thrive. The director had to tell one student, “You are reading two levels above your grade. You’re smart.” He didn’t know.
The program, which is open to any Hannibal child, began Sept. 11; space is limited. Sponsor for attendees are welcome, as are donations.
More information is available by calling 573-248-7242.
— By Bella Erakko
Halloween brings out the kid in everyone, and downtown Hannibal is the place to be this year. The Historic Hannibal Marketing Council and Hannibal Parks & Recreation are going all out with a weekend full of activities for every member of the family. Best of all, most activities are free.
Falling in Love With Bats
6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at Sodalis Nature Preserve
Are you afraid of bats? Then bring the family out to Sodalis Nature Preserve as we debunk bat misconceptions and learn bat facts. Participants should meet at the amphitheater at the top of the hill for an informative talk, then stay to see the bats in full swarm as they prepare for the world’s largest winter hibernation of endangered Indiana bats. Bat experts will answer all questions, and they will bring their latest gadgets to give you the ability to see the bats as they exit their caves to forage over Sodalis Lake.
Halloween Costume Parade, Living Dead Windows
Noon Saturday, Oct. 28, in downtown Hannibal
Saturday is Family Day in downtown Hannibal. Dress up and join the Halloween Parade then stay for (the Night of the) Living Dead Windows. Building on the Living Windows exhibits at Christmas, downtown businesses will be hosting scary montages with real people in their windows during Living Dead Windows. See ghouls, ghosts and goblins enact scary scenes in the store windows. Enjoy a hot drink or snack, and walk the streets after dark.
Monster Machines, Trick-or-Treating and More
5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, on Main Street
Bring the children downtown on Halloween evening, when they can explore monster machines and collect treats from local merchants. There will be all sorts of vehicles and displays from the Army, the Hannibal Fire Department, Big Rigs and more. Main Street will be closed from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. to ensure children can run around in safety.