Welcome to the 2017 Big River Steampunk Festival.
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.
The festival also is a great way to celebrate the history of Hannibal, Mo., a town that became a main hub of commerce during the Industrial Revolution and was the epitome of the Gilded Age, a term coined by none other than Hannibal’s own Mark Twain.
We are delighted to present this year’s festival. A lot of entertainers are making their debuts in Hannibal, and there are so many fun activities for the whole family including Splendid Teapot Racing, Parasol Dueling and, of course, the highlight of the festival — the costume contests.
Festival activities may be found throughout downtown Hannibal.
Free entertainment will be provided throughout the weekend on the Main Street stage, located in the 200 block of North Main Street. This is where costume contests will be held, and nearby will be Splendid Teapot Racing and other events. Next to the stage is the Big River Steampunk Festival ticket and information booth, where you may purchase tickets for premium events and inquire about festival activities. Also on Main Street will be the cosplay booths with Airship Isabella, Children of Proteus, Eli August and the Abandoned Buildings and This Way to the Egress.
The Great Midway
Located in Kiwanis Park on the riverfront, here you will find 50-plus vendors from around the country selling their Steampunk wares. Seminars and workshops will be held in the park pavilion, and all types of food and beverages will be served here.
There are several other “off-site” locations for events such as the Time Traveler’s Ball on the Mark Twain Riverboat, British Raj Afternoon Tea at the Hannibal Arts Council, Dr. Frankenstein’s Laboratory at Bluff City Theater, Masquerade! at the Star Theater and more. The full schedule of events will be posted at BigRiverSteampunkFestival.com and also made available in our free 2017 Festival Guide distributed during the festival throughout downtown Hannibal.
While a majority of the events at the Big River Steampunk Festival are free, various premium events require you to purchase a ticket for admission. Please see the schedule of events for more information.
And finally, be sure to frequent the wonderful shops, restaurants, watering holes and museums in historic downtown Hannibal — many have sponsored the Big River Steampunk Festival and all will be open throughout the festival weekend. Please thank them for their support.
The music of Eli August is akin to the waters of a great river. It’s always moving and pushing forward, whether through percussive guitar and banjo or the urgency of delicately crafted lyrics. The music never looks back.
The Dark Americana music is, at its roots, devoted to romantics and those who reflect upon their days with a certain longing for the past. Eli is often backed by an ever-changing East Coast collective called the Abandoned Buildings, who bring rich and earthy orchestrations to the settings imagined in August’s songwriting.
On their maiden voyage at the Big River Steampunk Festival, Miss Jubilee has been entertaining audiences around St. Louis and beyond since the beginning of 2007 with its blend of authentic hot jazz, swing, rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll spanning the 1920s to the 1950s.
Darling Violet is originally from Pennsylvania and makes her home in Chicago. A graduate of the New England Center for Circus Arts and member of the Kansas City Society of Burlesque, she performs as a singer, dancer, aerialist, circus performer and burlesque dancer throughout the United States.
A band of musical miscreants from all walks of life, Egress is a tapestry of worldly influences and an alchemy of sounds modern and past, familiar and forgotten.
If Tom Waits and Patti Smith made a musical lovechild, it might sound like Egress. Whether you know them as the “dance band to ring in the end of the world with” or by their “raise your spirit, raise a glass and drop a beat” attitude, Egress will leave their mark on you.
Egress is Taylor Galassi (lead vocals, accordion, piano); Sarah Shown (vocals, piano, violin); John Wentz (tuba, backup vocals); Joe Lynch (trombone, backup vocals); Jaclyn Kidd (guitar, banjo); and Nick Pecca (drums and percussion).
Wilder is an accomplished model who specializes in Steampunk, fantasy, art and cosplay. Wilder discovered the Steampunk scene at DragonCon in 2010, and she is one of the top Steampunk models in the U.S., appearing in publications such as Obscurae, Surreal Beauty and Clockwork, as well as reaching almost iconic status in work with Brute Force Studios.
Wilder has achieved success in the world of mainstream modeling as well, most recently working with the Black Tape Project.
You’ve seen him on “Pawn Stars.” Meet him in person at Big River. Billed as “The inimitable Renaissance Man,” Doc is a veteran film, stage and TV personality, dancer, singer, college professor, occultist, champion tea dueler — a multilayered entertainer popular throughout the Steampunk culture. He is the founder of the Steampunk Imaginarium, a museum in Las Vegas, and host of the Steamathon Convention. Look for Doc Phineas around the Steampunk Festival. There’s no telling where he may turn up.
Willeford has been at the forefront of the Steampunk movement since the 1980s. His custom prop and costume workshop, formerly known as Brute Force Leather and Fallen Angel Fashions, first started making corsets and costume pieces back in 1996, “...because there was so much badly made, mass-produced rubbish out there,” Willeford said. “We wanted to show the world that craftsmanship was still alive.”
In 2015, Willeford was one of the four experts on the GSN show “Steampunk’d” and continues to be an authority of all things Steampunk, featured in festivals and conventions worldwide.
Stop by and meet Willeford at his lair on Main Street or at one of the panels and seminars he’ll be hosting at the festival. He’s the author of two books, “Steampunk Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos” and “The Steampunk Adventurer’s Guide.”
Beard and the Wags are back for their fourth consecutive year at the Big River Steampunk Festival. The Scally Wags Pirate Comedy Show is one of the longest-running pirate acts in the U.S., performing at Ren Faires and Steampunk conventions. You also can buy them a beer pretty much any night at Finn’s, their preferred hangout while in Hannibal.
Sammy Tramp is a charming, lovable, scamp of a tramp, a throwback to the days of Chaplin and Keaton, and the good ol’ days of Vaudeville and Music Hall. Tramp was a founding member of Chicago’s Silent Theatre company, and also is the creator and artistic director of the Beggar’s Carnivale, the Pocket Music Hall and the Traveling Flicker Factory. Tramp can be seen in ‘Steam’feld Follies as well as in several seminars; she also is the director and emcee of the Big River Steampunk Festival’s Burley-Que.
Airship Isabella is a mercenary ship for hire. Through the use of steam-powered generators, augmented by a mysterious essence known only as aether, the crew travels from dimension to dimension, from time to time, completing jobs, causing a ruckus, and ”collecting” goods from each individual world.. Visit Airship Isabella at their Airship Docking Bay on Main Street.
“Grizzy” has been recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s National Office in Washington, D.C., as both a National Electrical Code historian as well as “the best electrical safety trainer in the country.” Grizzy has trained OSHA compliance officers, appeared as OSHA’s electrical expert and guided electrical fatality investigations.
Grizzy has collected electrical artifacts that he demonstrates in high-voltage keynote presentations. His audiences see a “slice of history;” his events have been characterized by attendees: “It’s like watching the History Channel, only live.”
Dr. Judas Lynch and Ms. Magnolia Strange have been working together for years. Lynch is a character of Stewart Minor, which started in the St. Louis cabaret scene and is inspired by the likes of Charlie Chaplan, Buster Keaton, Harry Houdini and the Amazing Randy. Stewart has studied with the Chicago Physical Theater, Circus Harmony and the Celebration Barn Theater.
Strange is a character of Ashleigh Lynne Packard, who started her career by performing escapology among other magicians in the St. Louis area, and now works alongside Lynch. Strange also does solo performance in hoop, modeling and lyra.
‘Crazy Boy’ Coy Espinoza bills himself as “a professional idiot.” “My job consists of doing outrageous things and telling jokes while doing them. I make people laugh, and it makes me happy,” Espinoza said.
Espinoza has been entertaining for years at Ren Faires and Steampunk conventions.
Saint Louis Mystery Company has been performing murder mysteries since 1992 nationwide from Chicago to Salt Lake City. With “The Great Airship Adventure,” the group goes all out to bring the Steampunk experience to the members. Costumes are encouraged (but not required) for this event as the actors will be in costume. Audience members will find themselves given a character for the event and will then be rubbing elbows with adventurers, scientists and all manner of Victorian characters.
As seen on “America’s Got Talent,” Sanjula Vamana is known as the “Sultan of Suffering.” He seemlessly binds the edges of almost certain death and human wonderment into a quilt of perplexing paraphilias.
Eva La Feva is a burlesque and belly dance performer and producer who has been delighting audiences for more a decade with her fluid, stylized dance techniques and her emotive and theatrical approach.
Making her debut at the Big River Steampunk Festival, Bast is part of Sammy Tramp’s troupe coming from Chicago to entertain the crowd. Bast is a popular burlesque performer in Chicagoland, appearing in such prestigious cabarets as Unbridled, No-Tell Cabaret, House of Blues, Uptown Underground and more.
This group is made up of cosplayers, comic book authors, makeup artists and more. Cosplay is predominantly based on their own original characters within the worlds of Steampunk and mermaid folklore.
Professor Parker was the dance master of Entre’ Nous Club Victorian Dancers at Old Cowtown Museum for 18 years. He teaches and performs the waltz, quadrilles, contras and other dances with his wife Maddy Parker. He also demonstrates a penny farthing bicycle and offers rides during the festival.
A college professor in music and voice, Melinda Kaye will be fascinating audiences with her mastery of the Hurdy Gurdy, a crank-driven string instrument that can produce the volume of several instruments at once.
You spoke, and we listened. You wanted a kick-off event on Friday night of the festival. You wanted to hobnob with world-class entertainers, meet the vendors of the Great Midway, and commune with other Steampunkers who have gathered in Hannibal from around the globe. Here’s your chance. Music, food, wine and beer tastings and a complimentary souvenir wine glass will be offered at the meet-and-greet party.
Don your most exotic Steampunk mask and prepare to party at the Big River Masquerade. The Star Theater, built in 1906, provides a splendid venue to immerse you in another place and time.
Dancing, a la carte menu, cash bar, themed merchandise and more make this event the premiere party of the Big River Steampunk Festival.
In this electrifying event, making its debut at the Big River Steampunk Festival, see the high-voltage special effects devices used in vintage movies live on stage — arcing, sparking and throwing spectacular electrical bolts just as they did on the set when originally filmed.
• Learn about the history of these devices and the people behind them such as Ken Strickfaden, who created many of the first high-voltage special effects for movies, as well as Nikola Tesla, the scientist who gave us today’s electricity.
• See the high-voltage special effects devices operating again live on stage for the first time since the filming of these classic films in the early 20th century.
• Witness the Tesla Coil, generating nearly a half-million volts throwing its large arcs and sparks on stage
• See a demonstration of the “electric chair” effect reminiscent of carnival sideshows where Miss Electra is completely impervious to electricity with arcs and flames emanating from her fingers.
Dr. Frankenstein’s Lab is a unique and extraordinary event steeped in electrical history, movie history, and spectacular (yet safe) visual displays of high voltage arcs, sparks and bolts of electricity demonstrated live on stage by Professor Sparks.
Not for the faint of heart, this late-night guided “investigation” of the old church, which dates to 1884, will have you searching for signs of paranormal activity using Haunted Hannibal Dowsing Rods.
Also, join Swami Doc Phineas for interactive psychic empowerment and an exploration of the spirits who may be present in this notoriously haunted location.
We cannot guarantee that you will have a paranormal experience in any of the spots you’ll explore, and we cannot guarantee that you won’t, either. Brought to you by Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tours and Dr. Phineas T. Kastle.
Victorians were fascinated visiting all corners of the British Empire, and no destination was more exotic than the home of the Taj Mahal. Celebrate the pageantry and spiritualism of India with an expert of Asian antiquities and customs, Dr. Phineas T. Kastle. Learn the customs and traditions of the British Raj as you enjoy chai, samosas and other treats. Each guest may take their teacup and saucer as a souvenir.
Harkening back to the days of the glorious Ziegfeld Follies, this Big River revival will make you laugh, cry and be rendered spellbound as you enjoy the talent and showmanship of remarkable performers. This mélange of acts from across the United States — escape artists, aerials and trapeze, musicians, comedians, jugglers — will delight audiences of all ages. This is the most popular event of the festival, so be sure to reserve your tickets in advance.
Aerialists, comedians, rowdy rogue pirates, naughty novelty songs from the turn-of-the-20th century and more. You never know what Sanjula Vamana will do next. Have a rollicking good time of music and mirth featuring an amazing bill of after-hours entertainment geared for adults only. Must be 21 years of age to attend.
An all new adventure for 2017, and smaller group sizes this year. It is September 1898, and the Great Airship War has passed into history and the public has become interested in more practical uses for airships.
In August the New York World newspaper, sensing this trend of popularity, announced an airship race from New York to San Francisco, with a $50,000 prize for the ship with the best time. Who knew that one of the airships would be found drifting in the wind near Hannibal, Mo., with the crew dead at the controls.
The St. Louis Murder Mystery Company invites you to participate in this interactive mystery. Prizes will be awarded for the best male and female answers. This is your chance to sleuth in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Who.
Gather with your Steampunk friends for a delightful outdoor catered brunch. Sip a mimosa while you reminisce about the weekend’s festivities and plan your final day of the 2017 Big River Steampunk Festival. This special event has limited seating, so be sure to purchase tickets in advance.
Here’s an opportunity to visit the magnificent Victorian homes and architecturally significant buildings of Hannibal. Some of the most beautiful, and unusual, locations in Hannibal will open their doors and share their history and stories with you. Visit mansions on Millionaires’ Row in the Central Park Historic District, Victorian-era buildings in the Main Street and Broadway historic districts, and unique homes tucked around the bluffs surrounding downtown. Homeowners and caretakers will greet you, and there will be plenty of photo opportunities for Steampunkers in costume.
Step back 150 years to the genteel days of Antebellum Hannibal for an elegant cotillion aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat. Dance the night away to the musical stylings of Miss Jubilee as they inject their unique variety of authentic hot jazz, swing and rhythm and blues. Step outside the Victorian ballroom onto one of the two levels of open-air decks and experience the majesty of cruising the mighty Mississippi River under the stars. The Mark Twain is a replica of the old steamboats with decorative smokestacks, two levels of open-air decks, an enclosed indoor Victorian ballroom featuring a gaslight bar and an authentic, steam-powered calliope to sing you a tune.
Main Street Parade
The fun begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 2, with the Big River Steampunk Main Street Parade and Opening Ceremonies. The parade begins at Central Park at 4th and Broadway and will make its grand promenade down Main Street, featuring the cast of characters who will appear throughout the weekend’s festivities. If you’re decked out in your Steampunk finery, feel free join the parade.
Immediately after the parade, the cortege of Queen Victoria will make its way to the Main Street Stage where Her Royal Highness will welcome all to the festival’s opening ceremonies. A trumpet fanfare and special appearances by dignitaries will signal the beginning of the festivities.
Step back in time and become a part of living history at the Big River Steampunk Festival. With the backdrop of the historic 1840s to 1890s buildings on Hannibal’s Main Street, the Victorian mansions of Millionaires’ Row and the churning waters of the mighty Mississippi, you can immerse yourself into your Steampunk persona and live the life of Hannibal’s 19th century Gilded Age.
Cosplay is free to all participants. The 2017 Big River Steampunk Festival Guide, available free to festival-goers, will be your roadmap with hints, clues and instructions for the people to see, places to be and events that will propel you through your cosplay experience. Prizes, give-aways and more await you in historic downtown Hannibal.
Main Street entertainment stage
Big River Steampunk Festival will feature an array of entertainment directly on Main Street, made pedestrian-only during the festival. Comedians, jugglers, escape artists, rowdy pirates, singers, musicians, dancers and more will thrill and delight audiences of all ages. The Main Street stage also will be the location of daily costume contest finals, the facial hair contest and other events. The Main Street stage is sponsored by LaBinnah Bistro, 207 N. Fifth St.
The Great Midway
Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Great Midway, located in Kiwanis Park on the Mississippi riverfront.
Here you will find the 50-plus vendors from around the country with Steampunk costumes, accessories, hats and goggles, books, music, artwork and more. Food and refreshing beverages will be available.
The Great Midway will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday.
One of the most popular events of the Big River Steampunk Festival is the costume contest, and this year, a contest will be held each of the three days of the festival.
Contestants will “walk the red carpet” during the preliminary round at Finn’s Food & Spirits starting at 11 a.m. daily. Twelve finalists will then gather on the Main Street stage where the daily winner will be announced and awarded the 2017 Big River costume contest winner badge and $100 in Big River Fun Money to be redeemed at Great Midway merchant booths. The free contest is open to everyone, and is sponsored by Mississippi Marketplace, 217 N. Main St.
Facial hair contest
Do you have a special set of whiskers, a well-waxed mustache or amazing mutton chops? Show off your look during the festival’s free facial hair contest on Sunday, Sept. 3; it is sponsored by the Gallery Hair Salon, 220 S. Fifth St.
Seminars and workshops
Panelists and performers will discuss everything Steampunk at two locations throughout the festival — Creative Exchange at the Great Midway in Kiwanis Park and Planter’s Barn Theater, the former livestock barn (c. 1849) of the Old Planter’s Hotel, 319 N. Main St. The schedule for the seminars, panels, workshops and make-and-take items may be found in the Festival Guide at BigRiverSteampunkFestival.com.
The 2017 Big River Steampunk Festival is proud to invite your
Steampunk group to pull into port at the Airship Village.
Reserve your free space and set up a docking bay — tent or other pavilion — so your airship crew has a place to relax, meet up, regroup, party and enjoy the festivities. This is a chance to showcase your best Steampunk look by decorating your docking bay. A medal will be issued to airship crew members with the most outstanding docking bay.
Splendid teapot racing
Splendid teapot racing is a sport that began in New Zealand, and is spreading around the world. It is an obstacle course of candlesticks, ramps and a gateway that must be traversed using a remote-controlled teapot. Make your own RC teapot racer; prizes and badges will be awarded to the winners, with a special award for the most creative racer, and you can even bribe judges to help your chances of winning. Host is Lisa Rooney of Tallahassee, Fla. The course will be found on Main Street with races held both Saturday and Sunday.
R.U.S.T. Steampunk Society of Galesburg, Ill., again will host the Big River Steampunk Festival Nerf Dueling Competition. In a re-creation of a 19th century duel, contestants will use Steampunk weaponry repurposed from Nerf guns, and the foam darts will render contestants eliminated yet in no way harmed.
For each contest, duelists stand back-to-back using the specially crafted pistols. At the drop of a lady’s handkerchief, they will advance seven paces, turn and shoot. If an opponent is hit by a dart, he or she is eliminated. If both are hit, or if both miss, a rematch will commence. If still neither manages to hit their marks, or if both are hit, the match shall be decided by rock/paper/scissors contest.
Registration for participants is a $1 donation to the R.U.S.T. Society; there is no charge to spectators. Duel schedules will be available in the 2017 Big River Steampunk Festival Guide, available free at the festival.
In February 2012 the American Society of Tea Dueling introduced this competitive sport at AnachroCon in Atlanta, although Tea Dueling has been practiced in the United Kingdom for quite some time.
Tea dueling is the art of dunking a tea biscuit (known as a cookie in the United States) into a “cup of brown joy,” soaking it for five seconds, and then lifting it into one’s mouth for a clean “nom” (as in “nom-nom-nom”) — all without dripping tea, losing biscuit fragments into the tea or on the table and doing so after your fellow duelist.
Hosted by Dr. Phineas T. Kastle from Las Vegas, Tea Dueling champion, the event is free for both those who duel and those who witness.
New to the festival is parasol dueling, originated by Maxwell MacDonald-Smythe (Kevin Jepson) and Madame Saffron (Jayne Barnard) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Those who participate will learn the art of the “plant,” the “snub” and the “twirl” in an effort to outfox opponents. Instructions will be given by host Melinda Kaye of Springfield, Ill.
If you capture a great moment at the 2017 Big River Steampunk Festival, email the image to: Info@BigRiverSteampunkFestival.com. The best-in-show winner will receive two all-access passes to the 2018 Big River Steampunk Festival.
Entries must be received no later than midnight Monday, Sept. 4. Three finalists will be chosen from photographs taken each day of the festival — Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Of the nine finalists, best in show will be chosen and announced on the Big River Steampunk Festival Facebook page no later than Wednesday, Sept. 6.
‘The Flickers’ Film Series
Join host Jorg Rochlitzer as he takes you back in time to the old hand-cranked days of “The Flickers,” early silent films projected with an authentic, period cinematograph. Jorg and his partner, Michael DeMar, are the duo behind DeRo Cinematography and are dedicated to “bringing back the golden days of silent films and period photography.” Films will be shown at Bluff City Theater, 212 Broadway.
Ride a Penny Farthing
Prof. Jefferson Parker of Wichita, Kan., again will bring his penny farthing bicycle to Big River Steampunk Festival, riding throughout the festival. He will show you how to climb aboard — a great photo opportunity for your cosplay experience.
Steampunk open gaming
An array of Steampunk-themed gaming stations will be available at Java Jive, 211 N. Main St., for open gaming with your hosts, the Iowa Steamies Airship Horus.
For more information about events, including locations and schedules, please refer to the free Big River Steampunk Festival guide or BigRiverSteampunkFestival.com.
— By Lisa Marks