The thousands arriving in Hannibal for Labor Day weekend's Big River Steampunk Festival were entertained by women in elaborate Victorian costumes, accompanied by men carrying complicated time machines, ancient weapons and combinations of industrial era machinery.
The thousands arriving in Hannibal for Labor Day weekend’s Big River Steampunk Festival were entertained by women in elaborate Victorian costumes, accompanied by men carrying complicated time machines, ancient weapons and combinations of industrial era machinery.
Some focused on military personnel from days gone by, while others added futuristic touches. Hannibalians also enjoyed putting together Steampunk attire and visiting with Steampunkers from across the country.
The numerous premium programs were selling out fast by Saturday, according to Lisa Marks, who coordinated the festival with her husband, Ken. As cofounders of the sponsoring Hannibal History Museum, they had planned this fifth annual Steampunk for many months and were rewarded with the huge crowd filling North Main and nearby streets in downtown Hannibal.
The evening cruises on Mark Twain Riverboat were among the first sellouts, according to a ticket seller on Sunday.
Queen Victoria, aka Kirsten Hildahl-Dewey, escorted by husband Jim Dewey, was in the Steampunk parade Saturday morning, then led the opening ceremony. She said her husband represented Queen Victoria’s “Mr. Brown.”
Many musical performances, seminars and other types of entertainment followed, along with vendors offering Steampunk items in numerous booths.
Professional Steampunkers Kate and Davis of Wichita, Kan., had a booth, explaining, “Children of Proteau” is their name, meaning, “Greek Gods of the sea.” They write a comic book series and sell it on childrenof proteau.com.
Michael and Jackie Domzalski of Detroit said they often participate in Steampunk festivals. “Steampunk is worldwide,” he noted. He was wearing an elaborate time machine with moving parts on his back, and she was dressed as a peasant.
Sheby Chan, the mayor of Pilot Knob, was wearing an octopus and carrying a railroad ticket box used by her great-great-grandfather. “You have a really neat city,” she said. “The people are so friendly. It’s been amazing.”
The hot, humid weather sent some contestants in the Saturday and Sunday costume contests home before the final events at 1:30 p.m. The grand prize was presented each day by Linda Studer, owner of the sponsoring Mississippi Marketplace.
On Saturday, T-66, aka Rick Walkowski of O’Fallon, won in a costume featuring a time machine. It completely covered his head, and he explained his helmet was needed because “when you go through time, you are never sure what kind of atmosphere you are going to be in.” His favorite time period is “the past, the diesel punk days.”
At least two Hannibalians, Haley Allensworth and Sena Carroz, were finalists. On Saturday they were dressed as “good and fallen angels” in white and black.
The costume contest Sunday was won by Cassie Bodenberg of Chicago, accompanied by her best friend, Kristi Howell of Hannibal. Both were characters from “The Little Mermaid.” Bodenberg was Ursula, and Howell was Aerial.
One finalist was Aiden Childress, 12, of Florissant, a comic book character named Deadpool. He was with his mom, Shelby, a Pirate, and his brother, Asher, 8, a fox.
On Sunday two friends from Springfield, Ill., won first and second place in the Steampunk facial hair contest, after several well-groomed beards were judged.
First-place winner Gary Boner curled his beard, “Fineas Follies,” with curlers and a curling iron. Runner-up Nick McCarthy had named his curly beard “The Verne.”
Local merchants, Steampunkers report good sales
One vendor demonstrating her craft was Hilly Jackson of Hannibal, using her 1904 sock knitting machine and selling socks.
Among the Steampunk merchants making their Hannibal debut were Aly Dwyer and Stacey Johnson of Austin, Texas, with their Venefica clothing booth. “We started Friday and had a really good turnout,” Dwyer said on Saturday, adding Hannibal’s festival “is the biggest we’ve done.” One of their customers, Carol York of Newark, was planning an order online.
At the Native American Trading Co. owner Mike O’Cheltree was busy selling shoes at a sidewalk sale Sunday, explaining this was recommended by the Historic Hannibal Marketing Council.
Nearby at Chocolaterie Stam, manager Tommy Hughes reported popular gelato flavors at the Steampunk festival were salted caramel and peanut butter chocolate. He had added two new flavors, Guinness and white wine.
See photo galleries for more Steampunk pictures.