The very first Big River Steampunk Festival was held in Hannibal on Labor Day Weekend in 2014. The event draw participants from around the region (in fact, even a few from several states away!) as well as curious onlookers who stopped in to find out what Steampunk was all about. After its successful debut, organizers quickly went to work on planning the next Big River Steampunk Festival. Lisa Marks from the Hannibal History Museum is one of those organizers, and she took a moment to answer a few questions for us regarding the upcoming festival.

Kurt Parsons

What were some of your thoughts after the Big River Steampunk Festival made its debut, last year?

We were absolutely delighted with both the turn-out for the event and the way in which Hannibal embraced the festival! Even with two very hot August days, people dressed in costume and participated in all of the various events. Those new to Steampunk marveled at the costumes and gadgets and expressed a desire to learn more about Steampunk. The feedback from merchants on Main Street and the attendees of the festival was overwhelmingly positive, and we were excited to have an entire year to plan for an even bigger festival in 2015.

We know that several out-of-town Steampunk enthusiasts traveled to Hannibal in 2014. Do you happen to know who traveled the farthest to attend the first Big River Steampunk Festival?

We had groups of people who traveled together from Wisconsin, Iowa, and Kansas, but the folks from Pennsylvania probably win the prize for being from the farthest away.

The 2015 Big River Steampunk Festival is expanding to cover the entire three-day Labor Day Weekend. What will returning visitors see that they didn’t see in 2014?

When we first planned last year’s festival, it was just going to be a one-day event. At the last minute we extended it into a second day, but many were disappointed that there was no costume contest on the second day and that a lot of the special events were only held on the first day. This year, we will have three full days of events, and we are planning the schedule so that if you attend all three days you’ll always have something new to do, but if you only attend one day you can still participate in the most popular events. For example, Nerf Dueling, Costume Contests, and the Vaudeville Review will all be presented multiple times so that people coming at different times, and on different days, will still have a chance to participate. A few of the events, such as the Hot Air Balloon Rides and Tea with Queen Victoria, will still only be held once during the festival simply because of the difficulty in producing those events.

There’s so much new this year I couldn’t even list it all here, but a few of the events being planned are:

• Entertainers from Chicago, Wichita, Kansas City, Florida, etc.

• Vendors from Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maryland, etc.

• Premiere of a special Steampunk play, written and produced by Gary Gibbons who is from Hannibal but now lives in Hong Kong

• Tea Dueling, a popular contest fun for all ages

• Ballroom dancing lessons that will take place in the street of the 200 block of Main Street, which will be completely open as Pedestrian-Only with no cars, tents or other obstructions to the beautiful ambiance of the architecture of Main Street

• An 1870s Base Ball Tournament is being planned

• Robert Snow, a gentleman who’s written a book about his life regression experiences as James Carroll Beckwith (who was born in Hannibal in 1852) will be doing a presentation and autographing copies of his book, Looking for Carroll Beckwith

• Maker’s Room where one can learn hands-on how to make Steampunk gadgets and costume accessories

• …and much, much more!

Will tickets be available in advance? Is there an advantage to buying tickets early?

Many of the events being held on all three days are FREE, no purchase required.

Tickets for the Premium Events will be available after June 1 on our website, www.BigRiverSteampunkFestival.com. Some events will sell out quickly so it is important to purchase your tickets as soon as possible. We will again offer individual tickets for our Premium Events, but this year we will also offer a combination pass which will provide significant savings for those planning to attend several of the popular Premium Events. Details will be available on the website.

What specific types of vendors is the Big River Steampunk Festival looking for? How would a vendor get involved?

Vendor applications are now available on our website. We are looking for merchants offering products that fit into the Steampunk theme: gadgets, costumes, accessories, books, etc. We also have a few spaces available for food vendors. We have already sold many of our vendor spaces, so anyone interested should submit their application right away.