Some were adventurers, some soldiers and others Victorian ladies, but all appeared to be having a great time greeting other Steampunkers at Hannibal's Labor Day weekend Big River Steampunk Festival in downtown Hannibal.

Some were adventurers, some soldiers and others Victorian ladies, but all appeared to be having a great time greeting other Steampunkers at Hannibal's Labor Day weekend Big River Steampunk Festival in downtown Hannibal.

This annual event grows bigger each year, keeping the sponsoring Hannibal History Museum staff - led by founders Lisa and Ken Marks - busy making preparations for many months. This year several new entertainment events were added, and at least one was sold out before the festival began on Sept. 1.

Some Steampunkers had a special reason to be in Hannibal. Gary and Michelle Boner of Springfield, Ill., spent their honeymoon in Hannibal five years ago and return for each anniversary.

He was riding his “big red” high bicycle with what he called “training wheels,” explaining he added them for safety after being injured. His biker jacket was made by cutting the sleeves off a leather coat from Goodwill and added bike tools.

During the opening ceremonies on Saturday morning, Doc Finnigan expressed thanks for the cooler-than-normal weather, adding it was appreciated by the people wearing five layers of leather.

Many Steampunkers spent hours putting together their costumes to represent the Industrial Revolution and Victorian era.

Among the imaginative people making their Hannibal debut was Scott Reid of Sedalia, Mo., an airship assault trooper, whose arm was a gun. He had a “puppet” parrot on his shoulder and explained his arm “got shot off in a battle, so the surgeon sewed a gun on my arm.”
Some were full-time Steampunkers, such as St. Louis retirees Jay and Kris Draper as Lord and Lady D'Mort. She makes some of her clothes and buys others at conventions. They brought 14 boxes of outfits for Hannibal's four-day festival.

Describing herself as a hurdy-gurdy lady, Melinda Kay of Springfield, Ill., said her blonde Marie Antionette wig represented 1700s France, and her corset from England was “quite comfortable.”

She is a music and voice teacher at Lincolnland Community College and said, “this is a fantastic event with whimsical costumes. Most people spend a of of time thinking about what to wear.” She is scheduled to sing with Jim Dewey of Hannibal in the Springfield Follies.


Facial hair, costume

winners honored


Some events were designed for public participation, such as the facial hair contest on Sept. 3. It was won by Shawn Parker, with Nick McCarthy named runner-up. Additional contestants were Eldon Whitaker, Joseph Dyer, Jeremy Hoyt, Shane Reister, Frank Horger, Gary Boner and Ryan Wankel.

Costume contests on Sept. 2 and 3 had many contestants. Richard Walkowski portraying Jesse Bones was the grand prize winner on Sept. 2.

A preliminary contest took place first, with two winners from each category selected for the final event. On Sept. 2 the other finalists were Gale Mathis as Needle Woman, Justilien Landry as Justilien, Richard Ferrell as Colonal Weatherby, Braxton Hess as Captain Clockworks, Nikki Luebke as Queen Bee, Nova Luebke as Drone Bee; Bella Mosley as Evie, Antonia Lucas as Danerys, Sherri Bradley as Black Widow, Eric Casey as Dr. Feelgood, Rachel Zimmerman as Melodica, Karen Chatfield as Greta Gearheardt and Vandergraaff Gearheardt.

Dean Douglas was winner of the Sept. 3 costume contest. Additional finalists were Vic Hicman, Gillen Raisner, Annike Lewis, Jefferson Parker, Paul and Wendy Kanehi, Chris Edwards, Madison Monan, Brian and Carrie Thomas, Hannah Walkowski, Aasne Daniels and Sandra Cox.

Some families all dressed in costume to participate in Steampunk, including Morgan McCallister of St. Peters and children, Cheyenne, Raelynn and baby Jordyn.

Other families competed in the costume contest. Sherri Bradley of Liberty, Ill., was a finalist in the Sept. 2 costume contest as Black Widow. She used an overlay from her wedding dress worn 26 years ago to decorate her clothes from Goodwill. She works at Personal Finance in Hannibal.

Sherri was witth her two daughters and son, Chris Edwards, and his fiancee, Allie Stroud.

Chris was a finalist in the Sept. 3 costume contest. He explained his “Major Screwloose” soldier costume is a recycled mixture of red and green suit coats from Goodwill and thrift stores, plus his grandpa's mailman helmet.

Sherri's daughter Holly Edwards had added bugs to her burlap costume to become Oogie Boogie of the movie, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Sherrie's daughter, Nena Bradley, was a pirate.

Many vendors were offering Steampunk items. On Sept. 3, Beverly Loxley of Beardstown, Ill., was buying two lockets for essential oils from Barnyard Steamworks of Moorland, Iowa. However, she does not use essential oils, she said. She planned to spray her own perfume in her locket.

See photo gallery and videos for more about the Steampunk Festival.

Reach reporter Bev Darr at