By Lisa Marks
Big River Steampunk Festival takes over Historic Downtown Hannibal each Labor Day weekend. Unlike Steampunk conventions, often held in large hotels, the Hannibal festival provides the opportunity for total immersion in the Victorian era with events happening throughout the town — streets, parks, ballfields, retail establishments, museums, historic homes and, yes, even on the mighty Mississippi River. The festival is produced by the board and staff of the Hannibal History Museum Foundation, a federally recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization, as a benefit to sustain the Hannibal History Museum.
Big River Steampunk Festival has three main areas of activity.
Main Street: The Main Street Stage is the spot for free entertainment throughout the weekend. Savor a cold beverage and delicious food as you enjoy the open-air shows. Also on Main Street, you’ll find Nerf Dueling, Tea Dueling, Ballroom Dancing, Splendid Teapot Racing and Cake Walk Promenade. Be sure to visit the Maker’s Room at 205 N. Main, where tinkerers may engage in Make-N-Takes and creative Steampunk workshops.
Kiwanis Park, featuring The Great Midway: On the riverfront, in Kiwanis Park, you’ll find more than 50 vendors from around the country with a range of Steampunk wares. Entertainment is free throughout the day on The Great Midway Stage, and food and beverages are served.
Nipper Park: The circular layout of Nipper Park is the place for Hot Air Balloon Rides and the Steamapalooza Riverfront Concert Stage.
Other events: The list is a long one — symposiums, costume contests, Sophie Tucker’s Clockwork Cabaret and The Burley-Que, and the Time Traveler’s Ball aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat.
Most Big River Steampunk Festival events are brought to you at no charge. However, various Premium Events require you to purchase a ticket for admission.
Beyond Steampunk, the wonderful and wide-ranging world of downtown Hannibal is there for you — shops, restaurants, watering holes, galleries, museums and more, many of which are sponsors of the Big River Steampunk Festival, They all will be open throughout the festival weekend; please thank them for their support.