• By Kelly Wilson
  • 29 Jun, 2017

Event began in 1956 with first fence-painting, Tom and Becky contests

Ellie Locke and Spencer Street pose during the 2016 National Tom Sawyer Days in Hannibal. This year’s event kicks off June 30 and ends on the Fourth of July. Photo by Jake Shane

National Tom Sawyer Days originated in 1956 with the first Tom Sawyer fence-painting contest sponsored by the Hannibal Jaycees and the first Tom and Becky contest sponsored by the Hannibal Chamber of Commerce. The original event took place in May and was an outgrowth of a tour of 1,200 St. Louis children sponsored by KETC-TV, a St. Louis-based educational TV station.

The contests were planned to add color to the event. In 1959, the event was moved to July 4 when Independence Day was proclaimed “Tom Sawyer Days” through a joint proclamation of Hannibal Mayor Clyde Toalson, Missouri Gov. James T. Blair and Illinois Gov. William Stratton. Moving the event combined all of the Tom Sawyer activities with the Hannibal Jaycees’ annual fireworks display, creating one grand holiday.

In 1961, National Tom Sawyer Days was born through a joint congressional resolution sponsored by Missouri U.S. Sens. Stuart Symington and Edward Long and Missouri U.S. Rep. Clarence Cannon. The chartering resolution stated the celebration is dedicated to the recognition of that most lovable, yet unpredictable phenomenon of our American society, the small boy and his fascination for the big river as immortalized by Mark Twain. Here, amid the echoes of the Tom Sawyers and Huck Finns of Samuel Clemens’ day as the events of the past are re-enacted, people discover that the charm preserved by the author still lives in every boy or everyone who ever was a boy. 

The fence-painting contest is the core event of National Tom Sawyer Days and includes several days of events. All local contestants compete in the first event to advance to the national contest. A second event is held for contestants from all across Missouri who advance to compete in the national contest. The national event is the final event. The winner of the national event receives the governor’s trophy, which may be presented to his state’s governor and displayed in the state capitol for one year. The trophy is returned each year for the next contest. 

The national fence-painting contest is a three-part event with contestants receiving points for authenticity of costume, speed and painting quality. Contestants are encouraged to read “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” to attempt to capture a realistic look for their costume. These areas are judged by local dignitaries, distinguished guests and the previous year’s champion. 

Decorated trucks from Bleigh Ready Mix roll down Broadway in Hannibal during 2016’s Fourth of July parade. Photo by Alyse Thompson

Here comes the parade

It would not be the Fourth of July without the Hannibal Jaycees’ parade. It is an event the entire town — and many people from throughout the region — attend. Thousands line the streets of downtown Hannibal to catch a glimpse of their favorite float, classic car or pageant winner. A portion of the proceeds from this year’s parade will be donated to the St. Jude’s run. People should be sure to be there before 10 a.m., when the parade kicks off. Pre-registration is recommended for those who wish to participate. For more information, contact Jamie Bergeher at 573-822-4591. 

Fireworks explode during a 2016 Fourth of July celebration. As part of National Tom Sawyer Days, fireworks will be displayed July 4 at the Mississippi riverfront. Photo by Michael Kipley

Fourth of July fireworks to light up river

WGEM and The Herald-Whig are again spearheading the Fourth of July fireworks displays in Hannibal and Quincy.

Fireworks at both communities are scheduled to begin about 9 p.m. on Tuesday, July 4. The displays will be synched with a selection of patriotic and popular music simulcast on WGEM 105.1 FM. Anyone can download for free the WGEM FM app to listen to the music from their smartphone or tablet.

Hannibal’s fireworks display will be launched from the top of Lover’s Leap on the banks of the Mississippi River.

“Fireworks have been a staple of the Fourth of July festivities in Hannibal for many years,” said Jacob Knacke, a member of the Hannibal Community Promotions Group that raised funds from individuals and local businesses for the show. “My hat’s off in appreciation and honor to be a part of something larger and better together.”

In Quincy, the celebration will take place on the grounds of the Illinois Veterans Home, beginning at 5 p.m. It will feature the Quincy Park Band, followed by additional local entertainment on the main lawn. A kids’ zone will include a petting zoo, bounce houses and face painting. In addition, there will be skydivers from the Rapid Descent group of Hannibal, along with food and drink vendors.

“WGEM’s goal is to make this a memorable and enjoyable event,” said Vice President and General Manager Carlos Fernandez. “The focus is being placed on maintaining and growing the patriotic community spirit that Independence Day brings out each year and to create memories worth remembering.” 

Tanyard Gardens comes alive

It is named for the back-in-the-day “tan yard” where Huck Finn’s dissolute father, Pap, slept. Now, during National Tom Sawyer Days, Tanyard Gardens is the refreshment center, entertainment epicenter and general headquarters of the event. The garden was started by Hannibal Jaycees in 1975 as a central place for visitors to eat, drink, relax and socialize — and keep up with the event’s myriad of activities.

The refreshment center features a variety of foods, snacks and beverages, including beer and alcohol drinks, in a picnic atmosphere. 

There will be plenty of the music of local and regional musicians, and it is the perfect place to catch up with friends on the happenings of the day. 

Four acts perform at Epic Music Showcase

Tanyard Gardens opens at 5 p.m. for happy hour, with $2 drinks until 7 p.m.

Then, make way for the Epic Music Showcase featuring Down Below, Cost of Desire, Fivefold and Nowake. Admission is $5, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Access Day at the Missouri State Fair, which is sponsored by the Jaycees and allows individuals with physical and mental disabilities from across the state the opportunity to enjoy a special day at the fair. 

Headliner: Drake White 

Drake White and the Big Fire take the stage at Tanyard Gardens, with special guest Broseph E. Lee opening for White, whose debut album “Spark” shot to No. 1 on the iTunes Top Country Albums chart. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the gate.

“Everyone should be really excited to have Drake White, as he was nominated for a Grammy,” said Trisha O’Cheltree, Jaycees public relations officer. “We really think we have put together a stellar lineup.”

Billboard magazine wrote White is a “confident, energetic presence with a mix of gravel, soul and gospel in his voice.”

In an interview with Billboard, White said, “To grow up in a CJ7 Jeep, sitting on a cooler and listening to country radio, then having an opportunity to do it — grateful is the word that I think of.”

The native of Hokes Bluff, Ala., hit No. 36 on the Country Airplay chart with “Simple Life” in 2013, and his singles “It Feels Good” and “Livin’ the Dream” both climbed into the top 40, with the latter hitting No. 12 on the Country Airplay chart last year.

“We’re just at the tip of the iceberg of what we’re going to be able to do, and I’m just glad that God has given me the opportunity. I developed some fans in my early relationships with radio, and it’s those people that I thank for giving me that chance. I feel like everything happens for a reason, and this is our time,” White told Billboard.

White’s website says his new album “tells the visual story of who Drake White is as an artist, husband and native-Alabamian. The images imprinted into his silhouette paint a narrative of White’s life, including his wife Alex, his hometown church where his grandfather served as preacher, his dog Writer and other mementos that inspired his first full-length album ... .”

Three bands out for Big-Hair Night

Saturday night is Big-Hair Night. Hannibal Jaycees, Golden Eagle Distributing, Miller Lite, Town Square Media and the Hannibal Convention & Visitors Bureau will present three of the nation’s top tribute bands — Poison Overdose, Walk This Way and Guns 4 Roses.

• Poison Overdose promises an ’80s rock-concert experience performing the music of, well, Poison.

• Walk This Way is considered one of the nation’s top Aerosmith cover bands.

• Guns 4 Roses brings Axl, Duff and Slash to the stage with a top-notch Guns N Roses tribute.

Tickets are available in advance at County Market in Hannibal, Rustic Oak Pub & Grill or online at for $10. Gates open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7 p.m. Attitudes Salon is sponsoring the Biggest-Hair Contest and will award a $100 prize at 8:30 p.m. 

Washers, cornhole tournaments start July 1 

Get a team in the Hannibal Jaycees annual washers tournament for a chance at $500. Registration begins at 10 a.m., and play begins at 11 a.m. There is a $20 entry fee per team, and cash prizes will be awarded to the top three teams.

Horseshoe tournament: Hannibal P.O.P.S. will host a horseshoe tournament at Ringer Park, with qualifying at 9 a.m. Saturday and the tourney getting underway at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Cornhole tournament: Hannibal Jaycees will hold a cornhole tournament Sunday at Tanyard Gardens, with registration at 10 a.m. and tournament play beginning at 11 a.m. Prizes will be based on the number of teams.

Matt Roberts Blues Band, Donnie Baker return to NTSD

The Matt Roberts Blues Band will take the stage at 7 p.m., followed by the return to Hannibal of comedian Donnie Baker. Baker is the brainchild of comedian Ron Sexton. He is described as rude, wacked-out and a nitwit. The character of Donnie resulted from a series of phone calls to “The Bob & Tom Show.” 

Gates will open at 6:30; there is a $10 cover charge, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Wonderland Camp scholarships.

Fence-painting competition

This is the cornerstone of National Tom Sawyer Days and where it all began — Hannibal Jaycees National Fence-Painting Contest.

Boys ages 10 to 13 from throughout the United States make their way to Hannibal every year to compete for the title and the coveted trophy.

The paint starts flying at 2 p.m. with several competitions — the local contest, the state contest and the over-30 competition.

New this year are a girls contest and a pee-wee contest at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 2.

The national contest will take place 2 p.m. Sunday,   July 2.  

Arts and crafts fest at Central Park

The annual Samuel L. Clemens Arts and Crafts Festival will take place during National Tom Sawyer Days.

Sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Hannibal, which began hosting the festival in 1977, the event takes place in the shady greenery of Central Park, the one-square-block park just a few blocks from Tom Sawyer Days activities.

The fest will include 123 arts and crafts booths, food stands operated by the town’s two Kiwanis Clubs and a fresh lemonade stand provided by the Hannibal High School Booster Club. A variety of entertainers will take the stand throughout the three-day show.

Announcement of the winners of the Tom and Becky contest will take place at noon Tuesday, July 4, at the bandstand.

Winners of the Kiwanis Fiat-Mule raffle will be announced at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets, which are $20 each or three for $50, are available from Kiwanis Club members, with proceeds funding Kiwanis children’s projects. Two preliminary drawings for $300 cash will take place Tuesday afternoon, and the top prizes are a Fiat 500 Pop or a Kawasaki Mule or $15,000 in cash — winner’s choice.  

Additional activities during NTSD


June 28 through July 1

Hill and Front streets

Sponsored by the Hannibal Y-Men’s Club, the 38th annual Mud Volleyball Tournament is a double-elimination event. More information is available by contacting the YMCA at 573-221-0586.


Saturday, July 1 • 11 a.m.

Cardiff Hill old bridge approach

For girls who like catching minnnows, spitting watermelon seeds and playing in the mud. More information is available by emailing  


June 30 • 1 p.m.

Central Park, Fourth Street and Broadway

The 45th annual pet show is sponsored by F&M Bank & Trust Company. Registration begins at noon, and judging will take place at 1 p.m. More information is available by calling Joy McPike at 221-6424 or Joel Booth at 221-6425, ext. 304.


Monday, July 3 • 1 p.m.

Mark Twain Apartments parking lot

The Hannibal Evening Kiwanis sponsors this event for children ages 3 through 6 at the parking lot at the corner of Church and Third streets. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. More information is available by contacting Buzz Ballinger at 573-221-8615.


July 3 • 3 p.m.

Tanyard Gardens,
100 Bird St.

Do you have what it takes to be a star? Show what you have during Hannibal’s Got Talent, sponsored by Hannibal Jaycees.

Registration begins at 3, and the show starts at 3:30. 

National Tom Sawyer Days schedule

Wednesday, June 28

5 p.m. Mud volleyball teams practice, near Y-Men’s Pavilion, Hill Street

5 to 10 p.m. Miller Spectacular Shows carnival, Lyon Street

Thursday, June 29

5 p.m. Youth Mud Volleyball Tournament, Y-Men’s Pavilion, Hill Street

5 p.m. Beverage and concessions open

5 to 10 p.m. Miller Spectacular Shows carnival, Lyon Street

Friday, June 30

Noon to 10 p.m. Miller Spectacular Shows carnival, Lyon Street

Noon Pet show at Central Park

2:30 p.m. Hannibal Cannibal packet pickup, North and Main streets

5 p.m. Mud Volleyball Tournament, Y-Men’s Pavilion, Hill Street

5 p.m. Beverage and concessions open

5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Tanyard Gardens open, $5 cover; portion of proceeds benefits Access Day at Missouri State Fair, sponsored by the Jaycees

5 to 7 p.m. Happy Hour at Tanyard Gardens, $2 drinks, cash bar

7:30 p.m. Epic Music Showcase featuring Down Below, Cost of Desire, Fivefold and Nowake at Tanyard Gardens

Saturday, July 1

5:30 a.m. Hannibal Cannibal registration, North and Main streets

7 a.m. Hannibal Cannibal sponsored by Hannibal Regional Foundation

7 a.m. Mud Volleyball Tournament, Y-Men’s Pavilion, Hill Street

9 a.m. Little Miss and Little Mr. Hannibal and Baby Pageants, Hannibal Middle School; doors open at 8:30 a.m.; Barb Stewart School of Dance

9 a.m. Horseshoe Tournament qualifiers, Ringer Park, sponsored by P.O.P.S. Club

10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Miller Spectacular Shows carnival, Lyon Street

10 a.m. Washers/Cornhole Tournament registration, Tanyard Gardens

11 a.m. Washers/Cornhole Tournament, Tanyard Gardens, sponsored by Jaycees

11 a.m. Tomboy Sawyer Contest, Old Bridge Approach, sponsored by Business and Professional Women

2 p.m. Local Fence-Painting Contest, Main and Hill streets, sponsored by Jaycees

3 p.m. State Fence-Painting Contest, followed by Over-30 Contest, sponsored by Jaycees

6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Tanyard Gardens open, $10 cover

7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Walk This Way, Poison Overdose, Guns 4 Roses

8:30 p.m. Biggest Hair Contest, Tanyard Gardens, presented by Attitudes

Sunday, July 2

7 a.m. Mud Volleyball Tournament, Y-Men’s Pavilion, Hill Street

7 a.m. Beverage and concessions open

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Arts and Crafts Festival, Central Park, sponsored by Kiwanis

9 a.m. Horseshoe Tournament, Ringer Park, sponsored by P.O.P.S. Club

10 a.m. Cornhole Tournament Registration, Tanyard Gardens

11 a.m. Cornhole Tournament, Tanyard Gardens, sponsored by Jaycees

Noon to 10 p.m. Miller Spectacular Shows carnival, Lyon Street

1 p.m. Pee-Wee and Girls Fence Painting, Main and Hill streets, sponsored by Jaycees

2 p.m. National Fence-Painting Contest, Main and Hill streets, sponsored by Jaycees

6: 30 to midnight Tanyard Gardens open, $12 in advance, $15 at gate

7:30 p.m. Broseph E. Lee Band, Tanyard Gardens

9 p.m. Drake White and the Big Fire, Tanyard Gardens

Monday, July 3

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Arts and Crafts Festival, Central Park, sponsored by Kiwanis

Noon to 10 p.m. Miller Spectacular Shows carnival, Lyon Street

12:30 p.m. Tricycle Race registration, Third and Church streets, sponsored by Kiwanis

1 p.m. Tricycle Races, Third and Church streets, sponsored by Kiwanis

1 to 6 p.m. Tanyard Gardens beverage tent open

3 p.m. Hannibal’s Got Talent registration

3:30 p.m. Hannibal’s Got Talent, sponsored by Jaycees

6:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Tanyard Gardens open, $10 cover charge, portion of proceeds benefits Wonderland Camp

7 p.m. Matt Roberts Blues Band

10 p.m. Comedian Donnie Baker

Tuesday, July 4

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Arts and Crafts Festival, Central Park, sponsored by Kiwanis

10 a.m. Parade along Broadway, sponsored by Jaycees

Noon Announcement of new Tom and Becky, Central Park

Noon to 10 p.m. Miller Spectacular Shows carnival, Lyon Street

Noon to 5 p.m. Tanyard Gardens beverage tent open

4 p.m. Kiwanis raffle drawing, Central Park

9 p.m. Fireworks show at dusk, riverfront 


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By Kelly Wilson 30 Aug, 2017

July hadn’t officially rolled into August before Missouri high school football teams hit the field.

With the season scheduled to begin the earliest it ever has — the first games kicked off Aug. 18 — teams were afforded the opportunity begin practicing at the end of the July. It might seem odd to start so early, but the preparations began months before the school year ended and hot summer days became the norm.

The work took place in the dead of winter, inside musty weight rooms and dingy coaches’ offices. That’s where the players committed themselves to becoming bigger, faster and stronger, and the coaches dissected every second of game film to unearth what went right, what went wrong and what had to change.

Preseason practice is all about implementing those changes.

Hannibal must alter its plan of attack. After three seasons with Shamar Griffith as the workhorse in the backfield, the Pirates are without a bona fide all-state-caliber running back. So they’ll employ a bevy of backs capable of collectively churning out the numbers Griffith did in becoming the program’s all-time leading rusher.

Should the Pirates find a way to make that possible, another state quarterfinal berth isn’t out of the question. They’ve won 22 games the last two years combined and relish another chance to solve the Kearney riddle.

Meanwhile, Monroe City and Palmyra have high aspirations of their own.

Monroe City reached the Class 1 state championship game last season, and although graduation took its toll, it is blessed with a stable of speed and plenty of experience. Last year’s deep playoff run might be the start of a decade of dominance the way the 1990s were, although Monroe City would prefer to change the ending.

Palmyra seeks a better ending, as well. Following back-to-back state semifinal appearances, Palmyra failed to get past the district semifinals last fall, losing to top-seeded Macon on the road. Being aggressive on the ground can change Palmyra’s fortune as a group led by Peyton Plunkett is determined to be able to run the ball against any defense.

Mark Twain has been able to do that the last two seasons, and controlling the clock and the tempo the Tigers are willing to give up. Expect more hard-nosed football in the Eastern Missouri Conference as Mark Twain tries to figure out how to translate regular-season success into a playoff run beyond the district tournament.

Changes are coming, and they’ve been in the works for a while. Soon we will start to see if the moves are worthwhile or the coaches have to revisit their gameplan. Either way, football season is here to entertain us.

That can’t ever start too early, can it? 

— By Matt Schuckman

By Kelly Wilson 30 Aug, 2017

Despite all the graduation losses the Hannibal football team has suffered the last two seasons — two NCAA Division I signees are gone along with the program’s all-time leading rusher — no one around the program is looking at this season as a rebuilding year. Give him time and Pirates coach Mark St. Clair will build a winner, the kind capable of making a run at a third straight state quarterfinal berth.

Here’s what St. Clair has to say about this year’s team:

“The biggest thing for this group is that we have some depth. We feel by mid-year we can really hit it running hard because our depth will provide a lot of competition in practice, and that competition is going to make everybody better. We’ve never been able to platoon, but if we can stay healthy and get some kids to develop by mid-year, we might be close to platooning. That would be a good option to have.

“Right now, we have to see where everybody fits in. We have a running back by committee and several people vying for positions. So we have to create competition, evaluate film and put them in positions to stress them physically and mentally to figure out who can do what. We’ll get things figured out. It may take us a few weeks, but we’ll get them figured out.

“We have a lot of kids who played some last year, even some who started a few games and some who started all the games. We have a decent mixture. What we don’t have is that Shamar Griffith, that true star. What we have is that competition at each position that is going to make everybody better if they just take hold of the competition and what it gives us

“They have to show due respect to the process. I’ve always been big on the process. It’s not what we do Week 1, 2 or 3. If we go back to last year and look at Weeks 1, 2 and 3, we weren’t very good. At the end of the year, we were really good. I’ve always been big on the process, and we just have to get better at doing the little things right.

“A lot of what we do with the option game and our schematic stuff on defense, it takes a little while to gel and to get the timing and the execution the way you want to. We’re always in a hurry to get things in, but you have to be careful about getting your technique, your steps and everything else perfect. That’s especially true on defense.

“We graduated a lot on defense, especially at linebacker. We lost all four starters at linebacker and all four are very good football players. We have some work to do there. By midseason, we think we should be very good on defense. You never know until you get out there and see what kind of personalities you have and how they’re going to handle situations and how much film they’re going to watch and the techniques they’re going to work on.

“We feel good about where we’re at right now, but there are a lot of question marks. We will address those question marks and hopefully come up with some answers that make us successful.” 


Aug. 18 at Helias

Aug. 25 Quincy Notre Dame

Sept. 1 at Boonville *

Sept. 8 Mexico *

Sept. 15 at Kirksville *

Sept. 22 Fulton *

Sept. 29 at Moberly *

Oct. 6 Marshall *

Oct. 13 at Columbia Battle

* — North Central Missouri Conference games

By Kelly Wilson 30 Aug, 2017

The Palmyra football team’s season ended prematurely — by its standards — last fall with an exit in the district semifinals after advancing to at least the state quarterfinals in the three previous seasons. That’s the motivation pushing the Panthers this season as they look to recapture a district championship and return to the state playoffs.

Here’s what Palmyra coach Kevin Miles had to say about this season’s team:

“You always want to win a conference title, of course, but I think a district title is more important because if you win that, your season gets to continue. You can lose the conference, but you can still get out of districts and be successful. I think that’s always one of our goals — to get a district championship.

“The good thing about playing Macon Week 1 is you know you’re going to get a quality opponent Week 1. It forces you to have to work harder to make sure you’re ready to go. With them ending our season last year, that adds a little more fuel to the fire for us to try and get ready.

“With Jacob Kroeger, he’s a different quarterback than we’ve had in the last few years. With Ben (Cheffey) and Brock (Malone), they were both good quarterbacks, and had their goods and bads, their strengths and weak points. Jacob is a different animal all together. He brings us a new excitement to the offense and a new style with what he wants to do. With him and Peyton Plunkett back there along with Braxton Long and Tucker Aeschliman, those four I think will bring some excitement to what we want to do offensively. 

“Jacob brings a mentality. He’s a pitcher in baseball, so he’s used to having pressure on him. I think he’s what you call a gamer. He very seldom throws a good ball in practice, but in a game or game situation, he gets the ball where it needs to go. He’s not your stereotypical quarterback that just sits back in the pocket. He plays quarterback and gets things done. His leadership and his tenacity are going to be his strong suit.

“We’ve never been monsters up front, but I think we’ll be very multiple with what we do on offense. Our offense will average between 195 and 230 pounds. They’ll be a mean and tenacious group that will get after it. We want to utilize their speed to get out in space and be more successful.

“I just think for us it’s how we teach and coach defense. It’s a downhill mentality that we preach to our kids on a daily basis if they want to have success on defense.

“I think up front we’ll have Braden Erwin, Parker Lefoe, Jackson Powell, Michael Frankenbach and Brady Barnett as our linemen. They all got experience last year, but they’ll start for us this year. Tucker Aeschliman is another that will come in and play our running back and receiver along with Braxton Long. We have the Neal twins, Braxden and Brayden, that are pretty solid. I think we have a really good junior group and sprinkle in some sophomores.

“I think the strength will be the leadership in our senior group. It’s a small group; there’s only six or seven of them, but they’re a hard-working group, and they’re determined.” 


Aug. 18 at Macon *

Aug. 25 Bowling Green

Sept. 1 at Highland *

Sept. 8 South Shelby *

Sept. 15 at Clark County *

Sept. 22 at Louisiana *

Sept. 29 Centralia *

Oct. 6 Brookfield *

Oct. 13 at Monroe City *

* — Clarence Cannon Conference games

By Kelly Wilson 30 Aug, 2017

The Mark Twain football team reached a district title game for the second straight season last year, but once again fell short. The Tigers are looking to make a third consecutive run to play for a title, but this year it will be done with a lot of new faces in key spots.

Here’s what Mark Twain coach Karl Asbury has to say about this season’s team:

“We do bring back an all-conference offensive lineman in Aidan Epperson. Our quarterback will be Lincoln Talbott. He’s been waiting in the wings the last few years. We have a couple people taking over the running back spot in Jace Barton and Logan Perrigo. It’s their time to shine, and they have to learn on the run. Offensively, we’ve run a lot of the same stuff, but now it’s more detail.

“Lincoln can throw a little better than the other two quarterbacks before him, and he also has a little different of a running style. He can run the ball a little bit and could be more of a dual threat for us. We’ll need to throw the ball a little more because we can’t rely 100 percent on runs and 0 percent passes. We need to open defenses up.

“The challenge is the learning part first. The sophomores we have had success on the eighth-grade team. The talent is there. It’s just the learning curve because you aren’t going against kids your own grade. Those are the things they’ll have to learn. The learning curve will have to be grasped faster. But if they don’t try to do things too fast, they’ll be all right.

“I don’t know if we have set a goal so far. It’s to play as best as they can. If they want to be successful, it’ll depend on how fast they grasp that learning curve. There isn’t going to be a lot of turbo clocks like we’ve had in years past. But there will be a lot of competitive games. That will be the thing — can they compete whether they are up one score or down one score?

“There will be a lot tighter ball games. That could definitely help us when the playoffs come. If they follow the script the coaches have put in front of them, that could be there. The talent is there. They just have to believe in themselves to get that accomplished.” 


Aug. 18 at Milan

Aug. 25 Hallsville

Sept. 1 North Callaway *

Sept. 8 at Wright City *

Sept. 15 Bowling Green *

Sept. 22 at South Callaway *

Sept. 29 at Montgomery County *

Oct. 6 Van-Far *

Oct. 13 at Clopton-Elsberry *

* — Eastern Missouri Conference games

By Kelly Wilson 30 Aug, 2017

The Monroe City football team made a thrilling 2016 postseason run that saw the Panthers finish runner-up in Class 1. Now, the community and the area want to see what Monroe City can do for an encore. Monroe City returns a bunch of players who helped fuel the run to the state title game but know getting back there will be even harder this year.

Here’s what Monroe City coach David Kirby has to say about this season’s team:

“The thing for us this year is put the past in the past. Last year was a special time, but that time has passed. This team is obviously a different team, and they all have to prove to themselves, their coaches and the

“We want to focus on the now. That means getting better every day in practice and continue to improve in our techniques, on offense, on defense and as a special teams unit. That’s how we’re approaching this season.

“When we came in as a staff five years ago, we wanted to set a high expectation for the kids, and we’ve done that. We expect kids to practice fast, practice aggressive and be sharp in what they do. When we have all the kids onboard, we can be pretty successful. That’s been our focus. We haven’t dropped standards just because we had a bad year two years ago or because we had a good year last year.

“When we met with the 2018 seniors, we talked about as a group our favorite part of last year, what was your least favorite part and what does your chapter of the story say? All the kids looked at me and said we have to make sure we don’t talk about last year. It was cool, but it was in the past.

“The kids have put a lot of great effort in. They have a lot of experience on Friday nights, and, because of that, they’re excited. They’re excited to put their stamp on things.

“We want to be able to compete, to put ourselves in spots late in games. We were in every game last year, so we talked about finishing last year. If we can compete and finish games, there will be good things that happen.

“We know we won’t be able to sneak up on people. Two years ago, we started a bunch of underclassmen, but we competed in a lot of games and those kids got a lot of experience. We knew we were a good squad. Maybe other people didn’t, but we expected to go play. We have a lot of pieces back, but they understand they have to elevate their games because there are no easy games in this conference. There are great teams in this conference that compete each week. It’s arguably the best small-school conference in the state, and they’re ready to get after it.” 


Aug. 18 at Clark County *

Aug. 25 Macon *

Sept. 1 South Shelby *

Sept. 8 at Louisiana *

Sept. 15 at Highland *

Sept. 22 Brookfield *

Sept. 29 Paris

Oct. 6 at Centralia *

Oct. 13 Palmyra *

* — Clarence Cannon Conference games

By Kelly Wilson 30 Aug, 2017

Hundreds of museums celebrate the American West — including more than a few east of the Mississippi River. But “True West” magazine says the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum is among the best.

The list of the 10-best American West museums is in the magazine’s September 2017 issue, on newsstands now.  

“Mark Twain is one of the most important chroniclers of the development of the West,” says “True West” Executive Editor Bob Boze Bell. “The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum does a great job of showing his life and his work. It’s truly a great Western museum.”

Two-time Spur Award-winning writer Candy Moulton and the editors of “True West” selected the winners for this annual award based on travels, research and firsthand experiences in visiting dozens of Western museums each year.

Moulton cited the museum for its size and scope, including five buildings and two museums that display personal items from Twain’s life as well as a number of exhibits of his times and works. 

Top 10 list

“True West” magazine’s list of Top 10 American West museums includes:

10.   The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, Hannibal, Mo.

9.   Cultural Heritage Center, Pierre, S.D.

8.   Silver City Museum, Silver City, N.M.

7.   Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park, Tombstone, Ariz.

6.   Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas

5.   Old Cowtown, Wichita, Kansas

4.   The Brinton Museum, Big Horn, Wyo.

3.   Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, Scottsdale, Ariz.

2.   The Witte Museum, San Antonio, Texas

1.   The Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyo.


By Kelly Wilson 30 Aug, 2017

The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its 22nd Annual Champ Clark Heritage Festival on Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Bowling Green square.

The 10 a.m. parade has a theme of Reflections of the Past. The chamber selected the theme to emphasize the efforts of its Downtown Revitalization Committee, which is working to restore the square to its earlier vitality when many businesses were situated there.

The chamber hopes the theme will encourage people to display items or pictures of past events around the square.

Additionally, with Pike County preparing for its bicentennial celebration in 2018, tours of the Pike County Courthouse will take place during the festival.

The event also will include a car show and craft and food vendors, and the chamber again will sell pork loin sandwiches.  

New to the festival this year will be a beer garden, where Michael Moore will entertain noon to 4 p.m. and people will be able to play pick-up games of cornhole and washers.

More information is available by visiting 

By Kelly Wilson 30 Aug, 2017

Get ready for the Taste of Twain Wine, Food and Beer Festival, which will showcase Missouri and regional wineries; local, state and regional craft breweries; and Hannibal-area restaurants. In addition, there will be two stages of live music, and it all will be surrounded by the historic homes of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum.

The event will be 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, on the grounds of the home and museum at the corner of Hill and Main streets.

Participants may stroll among more than 30 booths of wine, food and beer at the Mark Twain Interpretive Center parking lot and gardens of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home.


Hannibal’s own Cave Hollow West Winery will be at the event with samples of its featured wines, as will be Stone Hill Winery, Missouri’s oldest winery, in Herman. Don Sebastiani and Sons of Sonoma County, Calif., and Spirit Knob Winery of Ursa, Ill., also will be on site. Lost Vineyards will be on hand with samples of its Tiki Sangria.  

Craft breweries

Hannibal’s Mark Twain Brewery will feature two new beers at the Taste of Twain.

Also participating will be O’Fallon Brewery from the St. Louis area with its new pumpkin brews; Odell Brewery of Fort Collins, Colo., with Oktoberfest-style beers; Urban Chestnut Brewing Company of St. Louis; Sierra Nevada Brewery of Chico, Calif., and Mills River, N.C.; and Bell’s Brewery of Kalamazoo, Mich.

Odell will introduce two new releases — Sunny Rain Golden Tart and Rupture Fresh Grind Ale. A range of beers will be available for sampling, including several pale ales, stouts, sours, porters, brown ales, cream ales and wheat beers.

Other breweries to be represented include Bur Oak Brewery of
Columbia, Mo., Friendship Brewing of Wentzville, Mo., Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Ore., and Lagunitas Brewing Co. of Petaluma, Calif., and Chicago.

Members of the Hannibal Area Homebrewers Association will be on hand to discuss home brewing methods, offer samples and discuss brewing processes for those who may be interested in making their own beer.


A number of Hannibal eateries will provide samples of some of their best dishes. Among those participating will be Mark Twain Dinette, Rustic Oak Grill & Pub, Mark Twain Brewing Company, Badger Cheese Haus, Huckleberry Bakery & Bistro, Ole Planter’s Restaurant, Rumor Has it Bar & Grill and Hannibal Country Club.

Bourbon and cigar lounge

Wood Hat Spirits of New Florence, Mo., will present samples of its award-winning bourbons. Noted as the first craft distillery in Montgomery County, it has the only wood-fired distillery still operating in the country. Cigar connoisseurs will enjoy a variety of cigars available for purchase in the cigar booth.

Live music

Taste of Twain will includes two stages of live music, featuring Frate and Mike Moore with a variety of original tunes and covers on the acoustic stage, and the sounds of jazz, rhythm and blues and favorites on the main stage on Hill Street near the Boyhood Gardens.

About the Taste of Twain

Taste of Twain is a fundraiser in support of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum properties. The festival is sponsored by Mark Twain Brewery, Golden Eagle Distributing and Lohr Wines & Spirits of Ladue, Mo. Each guest will receive a souvenir tasting glass, provided by Mark Twain Brewery, and enjoy unlimited tastings.

Wristbands for the event may be reserved, in advance by calling the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum at 573-221-9010, ext. 404. Bands are $25 in advance and will be available at the event for $35. Participants must be 21 years old or older to purchase a band. 

By Kelly Wilson 30 Aug, 2017

Missouri Department of Conservation and the Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department will hold a free Discover Nature in the Park event Friday and Saturday, Sept. 22 and Sept. 23.  

Friday night, MDC will hold a campout for registered individuals to learn how to set up a campsite and build a campfire; they will have the option to take a night hike to Sodalis Nature Preserve, where they will learn about bats the area supports. On Saturday morning, they will learn to make breakfast over an open campfire.

The Saturday portion will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in and around the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center. Activities will include a National Archery in the Schools Program tournament, a variety of booths where people can attend “how-to” outdoor recreation demonstrations and learn about current conservation issues and opportunities.  

Schools interested in participating in the NASP tournament may to call 573-248-2530 for additional information.

Saturday programs will include the following:  

• NASP shoot: Watch middle- and high-school students in tournament competition.

• Big game official measuring station: Bring in your trophy game animals to be measured under Boone and Crockett, Pope and Young or Missouri Big Bucks. All North American big game species will be accepted with priority to those most likely eligible for record books.

• Urban wildlife conflicts: MDC Wildlife Damage Biologist Daryl Damron will present information about wildlife conflicts with deer, raccoons, opossum, bats, squirrels and other urban wildlife that commonly present problems to homeowners.

• Filleting stations: Learn how to fillet panfish, catfish, carp and other species and how to store and prepare those fish at home.  

• Missouri Bat Census of Bats of Hannibal/Sodalis Refuge: Learn about the United States’ largest Indiana bat colony.

• Children’s crafts and games at Ringer Park: Included will be fish prints, wildlife tracks, backyard bass and casting practice.

• Turkey-calling demonstration: Hear experts perform turkey calls.  

• Deer-calling/antler- rattling demonstration: Hear experts perform deer calls.

• Atlatl demonstration: Join Atlatl Madness for a demonstration of how to use this primitive weapon.  

Booths the public may visit include:  

• United States Army Corps of Engineers

• FKF Commercial Fisheries and Bait

• Missouri Bat Census

• Hannibal Parks and Recreation

• Atlatl Madness

• Missouri Department of Conservation Hunter Education Volunteers

• Missouri Department of Conservation Discover Nature Fishing

• National Wild Turkey Federation  

Schools may register for the NASP tournament at To register for Friday Camping in the Park or for a natural resource-related booth, please call 573-248-2530 by 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21. 

By Kelly Wilson 30 Aug, 2017

Hannibal Free Clinic, in cooperation with Hannibal Visitors & Convention Bureau, will host the third annual Rib and Wing Festival noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Mark Twain Cave Complex. Doors will open at 11 a.m.  

More than 1,000 racks of ribs — more than double the amount served last year — and 300 pounds of wings will be prepared by 14 barbecue teams.

Performing will be TZer’s2 , noon to 2 p.m., and Steppin’ Back, 2 to 5 p.m. Beverages from Golden Eagle Distributing andRefreshment Services Pepsi will be available for purchase. New this year will be B’s Dream Cream trailer offering ice cream novelties, hand-dipped ice cream and sundaes. Hot dogs also will be available.

Cost for entry and sampling is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 through 12; children younger than 5 will be admitted free. 

Tickets are available at the clinic, 160 Progress Road, Hannibal, or at the gate the day of the event.

More information is available at the clinic’s Facebook page or by calling 573-248-8307.   

Festival sponsors include DOT Foods, Golden Eagle Distributing, 4 Points Land Surveying and Engineering, Webster Windows and Remodeling, Town Square Media, Swiss Colony, F & M Bank and Trust Company and WGEM. Other sponsors are Doyle Equipment Manufacturing, Rebel Pig, Alarms Systems Inc., Benson Financial Group and Bryan Bartz-Farm Bureau Insurance Agent.  

Festival proceeds will support the mission of Hannibal Free Clinic, a volunteer-based clinic that provides basic medical care for uninsured adults between the ages of 18 and 64. All care is provided by volunteers or donated providers, and all support staff are volunteers. Since opening in 2007, Hannibal Free Clinic has provided care to over 1,900 individuals and over 18,000 visits. The clinic also has a medication assistance program that has helped secure over $11.5 million in donated medications from pharmaceutical companies. 

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