As the first groups of boys and girls raced across Main Street to grab brushes drenched in white wash, history was once again being made as the first Pee Wee and Girls Fence Painting Contests kicked off Sunday, July 2.

As the first groups of boys and girls raced across Main Street to grab brushes drenched in white wash, history was once again being made as the first Pee Wee and Girls Fence Painting Contests kicked off Sunday, July 2.

Thirty-four boys and girls between the age of five and nine started the first contest, each dressed in their best Tom Sawyer costumes. The girls from ages 10 to 13 competed next in their costumes, with each heat of competitors walking down with Hannibal Jaycee Ashley Veach before their dash toward the fence.

When the announcer shouted “go,” each participant ran as fast they could across the damp pavement, snagging the brush and focusing all their attention on the fence — some using wild, sloppy strokes, others with a more measured method — to paint the wooden structure as quickly and completely as possible. No matter what, each participant ended up wearing plenty of the non-toxic “milk paint,” along with a hearty smile after each run. The Pee Wee participants' fences were smaller than the ones the girls used, but they were otherwise identical — constructed and donated by Home Depot. And the competition was definitely action-packed throughout the afternoon.

Landon Nichols, 8, of Hannibal, won second place in the Pee Wee Contest, and he thought it was “a really good idea for little kids” to compete in the contest along with their older siblings and friends.

“It was really fun, running and painting the fence and getting messy,” he said. “I feel really good how I did, and I would really like to do it again next year.” Fellow Hannibal native Faith Watkins, 8, enjoyed her experience, too.

She said with a smile that “getting messy” was her favorite part of the fast-paced competition. She said she felt that opening the contest for more children was “cool.” Her costume presented some challenges, but it was rewarding.

“It was kind of hard getting dressed up,” Watkins said, showing off her pretend bandage, slingshot, fishing pole and other items.

The girls between the ages of 10 and 13 also enjoyed the chance to compete in the action after the Pee Wee contest, with participants in each division first being judged for their costumes and period-correct trinkets. Then, the fast-paced action of slinging paint skyward, sideways and all over each fence commenced — from starting line to finished line in a handful of seconds.

10-year-old Alana Lemon said her brothers, Jamey and Forrest Lemon, were each Tom Sawyers during National Tom Sawyer Days. And she was carrying on a tradition started by two of her uncles, Alan Lewton and Brian Lewton — who represented Hannibal in the state competition.

Before the fence painting contest, Lemon participated in the Tomboy Sawyer contest — she wore the very costume that one of her uncles used in the fence painting contest. She shared her achievement from the Tomboy Sawyer contest with a smile — first place for blowing the biggest bubble.

Throughout the weekend, Lemon said she enjoyed carrying on a family tradition that stretched back to her earliest memories in Hannibal.

“I've lived here since I was a baby, she said. “I have so much fun doing the experiences and going downtown and living here.”

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com