• 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 05 Dec, 2017
The Historic Hannibal Marketing Council again will present the Victorian Festival of Christmas, a month-long celebration that will kick off Saturday, Nov. 25, and run through Christmas Eve, Sunday, Dec. 24.
Now in its fourth year, the festival celebrates the magic and wonder of Christmas in cozy, decorated, family-owned shops and restaurants. The sounds of carolers strolling the streets, bells from a horse-drawn wagon ride and warm greetings will take you back in time to an authentic and genuine Christmas.

Here is a preview of what you can expect throughout the 2017 Victorian Festival of Christmas:
• Pictures with Santa Claus
• Holiday horse-and-wagon rides
• Magical holiday decorations throughout downtown
• A children’s stocking-decorating contest
• House-decorating contest.

Here is a sampling of events planned for Victorian Festival of Christmas:
• Saturday, Nov. 25: Small Business Saturday and Christmas tree-lighting ceremony
• Saturday, Dec. 2: Jaycees Christmas parade and Hannibal Elementary School Carolers
• Saturday, Dec. 9: Living Windows displays throughout downtown, Babes in Toyland parade and Polar Express.
• Saturday, Dec. 16: Holiday open house and holiday historic homes tour
• Saturday, Dec. 23: Hat parade
Updates and more information about various events and locations are available at
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
Miss Hannibal and Miss Mark Twain scholarship pageants will be 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Hannibal High School Auditorium, 4500 McMasters Ave.

The two pageants are for contestants ages 13 to 24.

Thousands of dollars in scholarships and awards from local colleges and merchants will be presented to young women in the local area. The two winners and two Outstanding Teen winners will go on to compete in the Miss Missouri Pageant in June in Mexico, Mo., with the chance to move on to Miss America — the largest scholarships program for young women.

Jennifer Davis, Miss Missouri and first runner-up to Miss America, also will appear at the December pageants along with the four reigning queens — Miss Hannibal Leah Rawlings, Miss Mark Twain Ashley Monasmith, Hannibal Outstanding Teen Ashley Krueger and Mark Twain Outstanding Teen Kierston Holstine.

Master of ceremonies will be David Almelotti of KHQA TV.

More information is available by calling Barbara Stewart at 573-221-5414 or Rita Nelson at 217-406-9986.
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
The holiday season may not be so joyful for those who have lost a family member or close friend.

To help make the holidays a little easier, the James O’Donnell Funeral Home will host its annual Candlelight Memorial
Service at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at the home, 302 S. Fifth St. The free service is open to everyone, not just families served by the funeral home.

At the candlelight ceremony, each loved one’s name will be read and the individual will be recognized with a keepsake ornament provided by the funeral home.

The Rev. Mike Quinn of Holy Family Catholic Church, Hannibal, and the Rev. Tim Goodman of Clover Road Christian Church, Hannibal, will lead the service. Clover Road Christian Church will provide music. Reservations may be made by calling 573-221-8188.

More information is available by calling the home at 573-221-8188 or visiting
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
Seven-time Emmy Award winner Ed Asner will bring his one-man comedic stage reading to Hannibal in January, courtesy of Bluff City Theater and Hannibal Regional Healthcare System.

Called “A Man and His Prostate,” the play puts a decidedly funny spin on what is in reality a potentially tragic situation.

Written by Asner’s longtime friend and collaborator, Ed Weinberger — nine-time Emmy nominee and winner of the Outstanding Comedy Series award for his work on “Taxi” — this is based on a true story of a man who “discovered his inner self in more ways than one.”

Best known for his masterful portrayal of Lou Grant, first as Mary Tyler Moore’s boss on her eponymous show, then in the dramatic spin-off of his own, “The Lou Grant Show,” Asner has been touring the production across America for over a year with stops on both coasts and many cities in-between.

“That he has chosen America’s Hometown for an exclusive performance speaks volumes about how Hannibal is coming into its own as a significant theater center,” Bluff City Theater Executive Director Joe Anderson said.

Hannibal became the location for the first Missouri performance of “A Man and His Prostate” after Anderson responded to an enquiry from Asner’s daughter and manager, Liza.

“We receive a large number of proposals from writers, performers and producers each year,” Anderson said. “As soon as I received this one, I knew we wanted to book the show. Ed Asner was an icon to my generation and is one of the truly great actors from the Golden Age of TV.

“At age 88, Ed Asner is a remarkable example of how vibrant today’s seniors can be. He delivers this show with a skilled comedic timing that leaves audiences in tears from laughing.

“Obviously, our 90-seat theater was not large enough for a production of this importance so we’re glad that Hannibal High School has a great performing space available to the community. At 810 seats, it’s quite spacious, but still intimate enough for a one-man show to succeed,” Anderson said.

Described by critics as “not just a play, but a public service in a comedy format,” “A Man and His Prostate” takes an unflinchingly serious look at a disease that afflicts nearly a quarter of a million American men every year. That’s what brought Hannibal Regional Health System to the table as a sponsor. Over 27,000 American men die each year from prostate cancer, and it’s a disease that is treatable, even curable, when diagnosed early. Yet, men are often reluctant to admit to, let alone discuss, their symptoms, which delays treatment, sometimes fatally.

According to experts, it’s often the woman in a relationship who recognizes the symptoms and pushes her husband or partner to seek medical advice. A production like this has the ability to open men and women up to talking about the problem, in much the same way other plays have drawn attention to women’s health issues.
The combination of Weinberger’s writing and Asner’s talent makes for 90 minutes of pure enjoyment despite the serious subject.

More information
“A Man and His Prostate,” starring Ed Asner, will be performed Jan. 13 at Hannibal High School Auditorium for one show only at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and range from $25 to $45. For an additional $15, audience members may participate in an after-show meet-and-greet with Asner.

Purchase tickets online at or call the box office at 573-719-3226.
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
Winners of the Hannibal Parks & Recreation Department’s Freaky Friday Halloween decorating contest were selected by Hannibal Chamber of Commerce staff.

Here are the results:
• Overall Design: 2715 Chestnut St.
• Scariest: 400 Country Club Drive
• Most Creative: 908 Park Ave.

Winners received a prize donated by FACT — Families and Communities Together — and a yard sign.

Photos of the houses may be seen on the Parks & Recreation Facebook page.
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
Mary Frances Quinlin has repeatedly turned to Hannibal Regional to provide her with excellent medical care. Why does she continually put her trust in their clinical expertise? For Mary Frances, it’s because she’s been part of their team as a member of the Auxiliary since before St. Elizabeth Hospital and Levering Hospital merged to become what is now known as Hannibal Regional.

“I was a member of Levering Auxiliary, and I got to be part of the development of Hannibal Regional,” Mary Frances said.

“The team at Hannibal Regional is an extension of my family. At Hannibal Regional you’re surrounded by loving and caring people who are great at what they do. There is no reason to leave the area for expert care.”

Not only does Mary Frances choose to receive medical care at Hannibal Regional, she has been a longtime member of

Hannibal Regional Auxiliary, which allows her to support her community.
“Volunteering has blessed my life beyond all measure and has been such a wonderful experience — and still is,” Mary Frances said. “It truly is a good feeling to know you are part of something successful and can take pride in knowing so many goals have been achieved.”

Mary Frances has been a patient at Hannibal Regional Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit and was impressed with the high-quality, compassionate care she received.

“When it was time for me to go home, they gave me a certificate that my caregivers signed with well wishes” says Mary Frances. “It was a sweet gesture and that kind of care is hard to find, but it is the kind of care you find throughout Hannibal Regional.”
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
Most coffee and tea lovers own that special cup that makes their first sip on a quiet morning absolutely satisfying.

Meet Naomi Peterson, the Alliance Art Gallery’s December guest artist, who invites everyone into her deep connection between environment, history, culture and beauty through her ceramic cups.

“I am drawn to nostalgic imagery,” she said. As a child growing up in Quincy, Ill., her world revolved around humidity, cicadas, bluegill fish, dogwood blossoms and ginko leaves. Today, she lives in Laramie, Wyo., in a dry desert-like environment with trout, sagebrush and cacti.

“As we go through life many factors influence us,” she said. “We are imprinted by internal and external influences that shape and change us. I am interested in the interactions between people and their environment — how we react and how that relationship has a hand in shaping our perception, personality and culture.”

Indeed, her ceramic cups invite the holder to reflect upon how we view our world and change.

“I’ve looked at the wildlife from Illinois and Wyoming and thought about how those differences make an impact on people,” she said.

She added, “We look back on childhood and remember things that surrounded us that we never really noticed, only to miss them when we move or travel.” In her case, she keenly feels the environmental influences on her life, internal and external, as she transitioned from a John Woods associate degree in green, tree-lined Illinois to the brown and gold mountainous landscape she experienced while working for a bachelor of fine arts degree in Wyoming.

In addition to a geographical transition, in order to graduate, she had to diversify from her preferred medium, painting.

She chose ceramics and never looked back.

“My aim is to integrate painting and drawing more with ceramics. I love the melding of different medias. It gives more personality to the piece.”

True. Just as a symphony needs silence (negative space) between notes, Peterson’s ceramic cups offer a quiet stillness.

The image — whether influenced by Illinois or Wyoming — allows us to hold in our hands a craft, an art, that began centuries before us and will continue centuries after us. A cup, filled with beauty and drink, gently coaxes us into our day.
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
At 16, Joe Noonan was too young to understand why the upstairs of the two buildings his parents purchased downtown was laid out the way it was. There were 15 small bedrooms with a steel bed spring in each one, and Noonan wanted to know why.

One day, he saw the elderly neighbor who had lived next-door for decades, and he asked about the rooms and beds.

“The guy laughed and said, ‘Son, that used to be a whore house,’ ” Noonan recalls, chuckling at the memory. “I was like,
‘Oh, I didn’t know.’ So finding that out was interesting.”

That utilization of the current Ole Planters Restaurant, 316 N. Main St., is one of many before Noonan’s parents, John and Betty Noonan, purchased and opened the restaurant in 1976. In the years since, Noonan has come to know the entire history of the building, and he’s adding to that historic narrative by remodeling the upstairs of the restaurant into residential apartment space for his family.

From a general store to restaurant
The building that houses Ole Planters Restaurant was built in 1836 and was originally two separate commercial spaces.

If facing the restaurant, the business on the left was a general store, and the business on the right was a men’s and women’s tailoring shop. The couple who owned the general store also owned the tailoring business, and they lived above both properties.

For several years after those initial businesses shuttered, there were retail stores in the space, and saloons and dance halls occupied it, also.

However, all business in the building halted after the 1973 flood destroyed it and other downtown buildings. The following year, a group of residents concerned about the downtown’s historic preservation formed the Historic Hannibal organization. They purchased 316 N. Main St. and other buildings for $1 and extensively renovated the properties to their original historic appearance.

Family-run for 42 years
In the 1970s, the Noonan family moved from Texas to Missouri to be near Betty’s elderly mother, who lived in Shelbina.

“My father had big parties in Texas, traditional Texas barbecues, gourmet meals, that kind of thing. And he worked as a traveling apparel salesman, so he got recipes from all of these different ladies,” Noonan said. “He was basically the internet of today because he was trading recipes, and then on weekends he worked as a sous chef at the local country club.”

John took those experiences and started Ole Planters Restaurant in 1976, which he named after the former Planters hotel across the street that was torn down in the ’60s.

“We started small and worked our way up. We had this (first) section, then two years later we got this (second adjoining) section,” Noonan explained. “We started as basic as basic can be with two electric home stoves.”

At first when ordering at Ole Planters, customers ordered their meal at a counter, took a number, then their meal was brought out to them. The restaurant switched to table service after being open for about six years. The original menu from those first several years still hangs inside of the restaurant.

After Noonan’s parents died, he and his brother, Jack, took over the business. Today Jack is semiretired from running it, and Joe does all of the cooking, using his parents’ same recipes.

“My mother is the one who taught me to make pies, and I’ve taught my kids how to make them,” Noonan said. “I don’t even have to tell them how much to put in. They just know it. It’s nice to have them involved a little bit.”

One of the things Noonan is pleased to say is that Ole Planters has served a meal to every Democratic president or presidential hopeful since Jimmy Carter — either in the restaurant itself or by taking the dish to their bus.

“The only one we weren’t able to serve was (Barack) Obama, who didn’t come to downtown Hannibal,” he said.

But Noonan’s proudest moments from running the restaurant over the years are when people try the family’s pies.

“The thing I get a kick out of is when someone eats a pie like gooseberry or strawberry rhubarb and they say to me, ‘Thank you. That reminded me of my grandmother,’ ” he said. “Giving them their memory back (of their grandparent’s baking) is something I feel proud about.”

— By Ashley Szatala
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
Members of the Mark Twain Chorale are offering an evening of peace and harmony during what can be a chaotic holiday season.

The 57th annual Mark Twain Chorale Christmas Concert will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec . 2, at the Parker Theatre in the Roland Fine Arts Building on the Hannibal-LaGrange University campus.

The chorale is under the direction of Ben Kendall.

Joining the chorale this year will be the Hannibal Area String Orchestra, under the direction of John Ferguson, which will present “Christmas Around the World.”

The evening will finish with the two groups performing together.

The concert is free, and a freewill offering will be accepted.

For information contact, Jim Dewey at 217-242-9220 or
By Kelly Wilson 05 Dec, 2017
A crisp fall day, along with entertainment and artistry, greeted visitors to the Pumpkin Path at Hannibal’s Nipper Park during the fifth annual Pumpkins in the Park, sponsored by Hannibal Parks & Recreation.

The Pirate Pride singers, a group of fourth- and fifth-grade students from Eugene Field School, performed, led by Teresa Paszkiet.

Prizes were donated by SC Data Center.

Here are winners in the youth category:    
• Spooky: Lilly Houghton, first; Andrew Clark, second; Autumn Seaman, third.
• Artistic: Kameil Crane, first; Tenay Griffith, second; Tyler Clark, third.
• Silly: Camron Story, first; Coleton Hall, second; Amara Coffey, third.

Here are winners in the adult category:
• Spooky: Josephine Crane.
• Artistic: Andrea Altiser.
• Silly: Claudia Nichols.
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