The Hannibal Marketing Council's Memorial Day weekend Twain On Main celebration has attracted larger crowds each year. The event May 25 and 26 has grown to resemble the fall folklife festival that regularly attracts thousands of people.
Mother Nature also blessed the holiday event, withholding anticipated rain. The Saturday weather was windy, keeping the crowd cool and encouraging vendors to anchor their booths along North Main Street more heavily.
The “wild west” theme, focused on Mark Twain's book, “Roughing It,” proved successful, according to the planning committee. When chairperson Linda Studer was not busy helping with the brisk sales at her Mississippi Marketplace, she enjoyed dressing in western wear and monitoring the costume and vendors' contests.
“It is great attendance,” Studer said. “We are just thrilled with the turn out. … We wanted to bring the old west to HannibaL. We encouraged the downtown merchants to decorate their windows and dress (western), and the vendors to decorate western.”
Costume contest winners for May 25 were Charles Rubison, first; and Melissa Cummings as Oakley Annie, second.
Cummings, who serves as director of the Mark Twain Museum's Tom and Becky program, was busy helping the current and incoming Toms and Beckys lead old-fashioned children's games at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home garden. On Sunday, some of the incoming Beckys led a group of girls in making yarn dolls in Mark Twain Boyhood Home Mall.
Costume winners on May 26 were Tyler Boggians and Marcus Boggians of Columbia, tied for first place; Rocky and Rachel Altgilbers of Hannibal, tied for second place; and Philip Cromwell of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, third place.
Decorated vendor booth winners were Kraner Kettle Corn, first; Pockets Plus, second; and CZ Delight and Pearl Creations, third.
The Merchant's Western Window Display contest winners were: First - Main Street 101; Second - Open Door Art Studio; Third - Hometown Essentials/Trolley Co. and Mayor's Choice - Java Jive.
In addition to Twain being portrayed by local actor Jim Waddell, several performers from previous years' celebrations returned. Among them were Medicine Man Professor Farquar and Polecat Annie. Polecat Annie was teaching children how to juggle Cherokee sticks, explaining they were used to train the Cherokee braves.
A special feature was the performance of the Osage Nation Dancers and Singers from Oklahoma. Their leader, Herman Sleeper, told the crowd “the Osage lived here in 1818 before Hannibal became a town.” He added the Osage Nation moved and eventually bought land in Oklahoma from the Cherokee Nation.
Sleeper encouraged people to meet the group after their performance but requested their clothing not be touched, nor the drum, because the drum “is a living thing.” He said they were “proud to be here, where we were before going to Oklahoma.”
Music was heard along the street throughout the festival. The Low Brass Ensemble of the Quincy Concert Band played popular music Saturday at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home lawn.
Street musicians also performed for the crowd, including L.A. Suess on his banjo and Ned Behrensmeyer on his piano outside Java Jive.
For more Twain On Main, see our online photo galleries.