Twain on Main to focus on Twain's 'Roughing It' with activities and performances evoking the Wild West

The Twain on Main event will evoke a Wild West experience during Memorial Day weekend in downtown Hannibal, inspired by Mark Twain's book “Roughing It.”

Kenna Bogue, a member of the Historic Hannibal Marketing Council, said the festival will feature more entertainment and activities than in years past. Most of the activities and performances are free of charge and reflect the tales and settings from Twain's work about his years in various occupations in the Wild West during the 1860s. Bogue said she is excited to help create a Wild West atmosphere downtown, commending all of the committee members who have volunteered since last fall to bring the festival together.

Performances and interactive activities will be in full swing for all age groups from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 25 and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 26 throughout downtown. The OK Corral will be set up in the parking lot at Bird and Main streets at 3 p.m. Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, giving children the chance to save the day during a simulated bank robbery.

“Throughout the weekend, they'll be deputizing kids beforehand — and then they'll have them all come there and save them from the robbery,” Bogue said.

Three stages at Hill, Bird and Center streets will feature reenactments, presentations, music and other performances. The Osage Nation Singers and Dancers will perform at 2 p.m. Saturday and at noon and 2 p.m. Sunday, sharing the history of the Osage Tribe in the area through song and dance. Jim Waddell, a longtime Mark Twain entertainer, will perform “Mark Twain Presents” on the Bird Street Stage throughout each day. The Center Street Stage will showcase events like 1880s gun fights performed by the South Fork Regulators, old-time “medicine show” performances by Professor Farquar with Polecat Annie.

Bogue said she looks forward to many new attractions this year, like Civil War reenactments at 2:15 p.m. Saturday and 3:15 p.m. Sunday on the Hill Street Stage. Renowned actor and storyteller W.T. Johnson will share tales about the Buffalo Soldiers each day. There will also be a Wild West Saloon Show and a log-hewn cabin will be built on site — providing historic education along with blacksmith demonstrations.

A “Cowboy College” will teach visitors skills like calf roping, yodeling, walking bow-legged, seed spitting and making a jump rope from bailing twine. Strolling street musicians will make their way through the crowds, including LA Seuss playing banjo.

Bogue said her favorite parts of the festival include the Wild West Gun Show, the Native American Dancers and Singers and Professor Farquar and Polecat's performances on the Center Street Stage. Nearby, Tom and Becky will lead old fashioned games, gunny sack races and show how to make yarn dolls from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday on Hill Street.

“When you go to the next street, they have Tom and Becky, and Mark Twain, so it's all drawing it back to Mark Twain and his focus in ‘Roughing It,’” she said. “There's going to be all kinds of things in different areas of downtown, so unlike the usual street festival — where there's a band playing or something — the street's going be lined with vendors, but there will be all kinds of Western-themed entertainment going along with that.”

Bogue said is eager to see people's creativity on display during the Wild West costume contest sponsored by Mississippi Marketplace.

“We're notorious for really great costumes,” she said.

Bogue grew up in Colorado, and she remembered regularly visiting ghost towns and experiencing the area's history. She's excited to be part of a group of dedicated volunteers bringing a “piece of Wild West history” to share with everyone.

“I think my favorite part after all these events is just how people react to it, and if they're having a good time, I'm having a good time,” she said. “Really, that's what we do it for.... watching other people participate and have a good time, and their families having a good time, that's really what it's all about.”

For more information about Twain on Main and a full list of activities and scheduled times, visit twainonmain.com.

trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com