Events & Festivals

Folklife experience returns to downtown Hannibal

Brandon and Kayla Schmitt, of Payson, Ill., dance a jig to music during last year's Folklife Festival. More than 100 artisans, performers and craftsmen will display their talents Saturday, Oct. 19 and Sunday, Oct. 20 during the 43rd Annual Hannibal Folklife Festival in downtown Hannibal.
By Hannibal Courier-Post
Posted: Oct. 10, 2019 5:00 pm

HANNIBAL — The Hannibal Folklife Festival will hark back to bygone years for America's Hometown and the event itself with more than 100 exhibitors displaying their talents on Saturday, Oct. 19 and Sunday, Oct. 20 in downtown Hannibal.

Michael Gaines, executive director of the Hannibal Arts Council, said planning for the annual festival began in February as vendors reached out to evoke Hannibal's history with food, demonstrations, artwork and other glimpses into the past. The festival looks back on the festival's history amid Hannibal's bicentennial year, with a blacksmith coming from Iowa, a cooper — or barrel maker — and Dan Barth's medicine show, which dates back to the early years of the Folklife Festival.

“We looked at the history of the Folklife Festival and decided to invite a person who was still performing,” Gaines said.

Community assistance has been vital through every stage of the festival — Gaines said teams of volunteers have been busy with preparation efforts, and they will perform tasks like setting up each booth, helping keep food vendor booths stocked, taking care of waste removal and making electrical connections. The community has stepped up with a large number of volunteers, and Gaines encouraged anyone who would like to lend a hand to contact HAC. He said HAC Program Coordinator Brenda Beck Fisher “does a great job keeping us on track.”

Fisher created the watercolor painting “The Flavor of Folklife” for the festival's poster. Gaines said a returning “family of exhibitors” will be weaving, spinning, carving, painting and creating handmade items like pottery, candles, leather goods and jewelry — and 15 new vendors will join the festivities with their creations.

A variety of familiar and new aromas will greet visitors from food vendor booths. St. John's Lutheran Church and School's cheese soup won the Best of Show award during last year's festival, and Gaines said the soup and Preceptor Zeta Pi and Beta Sigma Phi's chicken and noodles are among the foods people enjoy at the festival and take extra back home. First Church of the Nazarene will return this year with homemade pies, and Clover Road Christian Church is switching from cinnamon rolls to ribbon potatoes with cheese this year. Homemade foods and beverages include cold apple cider, root beer, beer bread, kettle corn and soft pretzels. Gaines looks forward to eating a catfish sandwich for breakfast.

Gaines attributed the festival's success to dedicated support throughout the community, from the planning stage to participation and clean up.
“We are amazed and humbled by the community support in all its different forms,” Gaines said.

The Hannibal Folklife Festival is sponsored by the HAC, along with major sponsors HNB Bank, Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. More information about the Hannibal Folklife Festival is available by contacting HAC at 573-221-6545 or A schedule and full festival details are available by liking the Hannibal Folklife Festival on Facebook or viewing the Hannibal Folklife Festival page at

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