As women arrived in downtown Hannibal on Friday, April 28, for the annual three-day Great Girlfriend Getaway, volunteer Paula Crane was busy registering them, then distributing booklets and selling tote bags, T-shirts and souvenir glasses at the headquarters in Finn's Food and Spirits.

As women arrived in downtown Hannibal on Friday, April 28, for the annual three-day Great Girlfriend Getaway, volunteer Paula Crane was busy registering them, then distributing booklets and selling tote bags, T-shirts and souvenir glasses at the headquarters in Finn's Food and Spirits.

Crane said she especially looks forward to, “talking to people and finding out where they are from.”

By 5 p.m. Friday she had met women from Wyoming, Texas, Indiana, California, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois. One Chicago group comes on Amtrak every year, she said.

Local women, such as Kim Linderman of Patriot Painting are joined by a large group from elsewhere, Crane said. They include her childhood friends and possibly relatives, “but all are from out of town.”

Also busy welcoming women to Hannibal were Java Jive owner Katy Welch, chairperson of the event, and her 9-year-old daughter, Greta. Katy explained “we have had as many not preregistered as preregistered.”

Among women who attend this special weekend each year are Illinois sisters, Mary and Martha Disseler, Mary from Quincy and Martha from Springfield. They come to Hannibal other times, too, and always go to Java Jive, which is where they began their weekend. Later they were going to the chocolate tasting at Chocolaterie Stam and have lunch at Finn's, but shopping was among their favorite plans. Martha was ready for the pie baking at Ole Planters. She said they did not mind the rain forecast all weekend, declaring “we come in all kinds of weather.”

Among the special events planned for the Girls Fetaway was a book signing at Java Jive by Mary Lou Montgomery, local author whose book, “The Notorious Madam Shaw,” is sold there. She enjoyed meeting friends and also gathering information for future Hannibal history stories. Her history stories are published each Saturday in the Hannibal Courier-Post.

Montgomery explained she plans to publish a series of five books featuring her history stories. Topics for individual books may include Main Street, Broadway, South Hannibal, Oakwood, health care, religion, music and education. She hopes to have the series published by Christmas.

Winners of the grand prize gift baskets were:

• Erica Hertlein of Hannibal, Health and Beauty Downtown Merchants gift basket

• Alisha Lineberry of Ballwin, Home and Kitchen Downtown Merchants gift basket

• Sherre Mobley of Hannibal, Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau gift basket.

Katy Welch reported more than 100 prizes were awarded during hourly drawings on Friday and Saturday, thanks to donations from Swiss Colony.

Reach reporter Bev Darr at bev.darr@courierpost.com.