HANNIBAL — The Hannibal Rotary Club's Harvest Hootenanny brought hundreds of visitors to the Mark Twain Cave Complex over the weekend with a mix of music, activities, food, vendors and unique experiences for people of all ages.
Friday evening was geared more toward adults, with an evening of live music provided by Anthony Russo and Drive By Boys and Madd Hoss Jackson. Vendors serving food, beverages, and other items were joined by a beer tent provided by Golden Eagle Distributing.
Saturday featured a wide range of activities and contests for the young and young at heart, set to the soundtrack of live music from performers including Jenny Manzke, Levi and Jacqueline, Kevin Babb, Haley Woolbright and Soulroot Band.
Adults thrilled in the competition of the Cottleville Cornhole Tournament, and the beer tent was in operation from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, along with a wide range of food and beverages for all ages.
The Bubble Bus provided bubbles and music from 11 a.m. to noon, and the Thorni Ridge Exotics Petting Zoo featured animals such as goats, ostriches, a baby kangaroo and a turtle for youngsters to visit.
James Bird, 10, was having a good time petting the animals. He said some of them were "a little rude," but he didn't hesitate to pick the kangaroo as his favorite of the bunch.
"It's pretty fun, and they're soft," he said.
Pony rides, bounce houses and a quarter hunt sponsored by HNB Bank also generated lots of smiles from youngsters.
The Chesterfield Upper Limits rock climbing wall attracted a long line of children eager to reach the summit. Ayden Juarez, 8, made steady progress toward the top to ring the bell. His sister, Averie Juarez, 10, prepared to make her ascent. Their mother, Brittney Watts, recorded a video while cheering them on.
"He's doing great. He likes to climb," she said, noting "it's right up his alley".
Emerson Straube, 7, was thrilled for her chance to tackle the toughest course on the climbing wall.
"I want to be timed for rock climbing," she said.
Emerson has been practicing regularly in gymnastics, and she knew her dedication has paid off as she prepared to climb the rocks.
"I'm really strong now," she said.
Michael Gaines, executive director of the Hannibal Arts Council, and Sandy Cox, Children's Program Committee member, were busy judging the artistic creations from the pumpkin decorating contest featuring young artists between the ages of 3 and 12 years old.
Gaines explained a majority of the entries were from younger children, with two divisions for judging — fifth grade and younger and sixth grade and above. Every pumpkin ended up being used, and the children created a wide array of unique artwork.
"They are creative and they get to whatever they wanted," Gaines said.
He said some children received a bit of help from their parents, but most of the young artists performed the decorating themselves.
Geri Graves and her husband, Harry, enjoyed visiting the event. They had just arrived a bit after noon, and were ready to visit several attraction. Graves said she enjoyed the live entertainment and was looking forward to trying the food. She also liked seeking the colorful pumpkins lined up for all to see, as families dined nearby in the shelter.
"I enjoyed seeing all the parents with children," she said.
Tom and Becky, (Dallas Nichelson and Koryn Miller) sat on a bale of hay listening to Kevin Babb's rendition of "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
"It's been lots of fun," Dallas said.
Koryn was having a great time, too.
"I'm enjoying it all," she said. "The people here are really nice."
A variety of tents were set up, with vendors offering a range of unique items. Trennity Roland, owner of Trendy's All Things Handmade, was having a great time during her first Harvest Hootenanny, sitting beside her grandmother, Linda Daniels.
She enjoyed being able to quickly grab a bite to eat and enjoy the music performances while meeting lots of new people.
"The atmosphere has been really fun to be here with the fans," she said. "It's been fun while working, so it's just the best of both worlds."
Nearby, Vanessa Quach, 10, was selling a variety of items she made with a finger knitting technique using heavy chenille yarn. She made blankets, scrunchies and seasonal items like gnomes and pumpkins — which her mother, Karyn, said had already sold out by the afternoon.
Vanessa has been operating her business, Wings of Warmth for two years now, and she gives a portion of the proceeds she receives to children's hospitals. She and her mother agreed they would like to return for next year's Harvest Hootenanny.
"It's very exciting," Vanessa said.
Madi Weatherford was busy at her tent for Madi's Kindness Projects. She had various items for sale, and her efforts benefit the Northeast Missouri Humane Society, local food pantries and her handmade Christmas cards and ornaments for nursing home residents.
Madi was sharing in the joy as people stopped by her tent to support her endeavors.
"They have smiles on their faces, and it makes them happy to see the stuff I'm doing," she said.