The second annual Big River Steampunk Festival got underway Saturday morning with a parade in downtown Hannibal. The festival has vastly expanded following its successful debut in 2014. There are Big River Steampunk Festival activities scheduled through Labor Day. Lisa Marks from the Hannibal History Museum is one of the organizers of the festival, and she gave us a behind the scenes look at the festival's conception, and its expansion in 2015. 

According to Marks, the idea of the Big River Steampunk Festival came about when downtown merchants were trying to come up with a unique event in Hannibal for Labor Day Weekend.

Marks says that Hannibal is the perfect setting for a Steampunk event, a celebration of "Victorian science fiction." Whereas other major Steampunk conventions are similar to comic book conventions, held inside hotels and convention centers, the Big River Steampunk Festival is held outdoors, surrounded by the riverfront, historic architecture and landmarks.

"The difference in Hannibal is you really are in the Victorian era," said Marks. "You don't have to imagine anything in Hannibal. It's all there, the real buildings, the riverboat ... so ours is really, really unique in that regard."

The Big River Steampunk Festival will continue through Labor Day. Unlike other downtown festivals, vendors are not set up along Main Street. Instead, Kiwanis Park is being used for the vendors' area. Nipper Park is also being utilized for events, contests and activities, including a circus sideshow.

Watch the 2015 Big River Steampunk Festival Parade