The first-ever Big River Steampunk Festival opened on Saturday, drawing curious onlookers and fans of the science fiction sub-genre (many in costume) to downtown Hannibal.

When initially explaining the idea of the Big River Steampunk Festival, event organizer Lisa Marks described Steampunk enthusiasts as "creative people who immerse themselves in the Victorian era yet live as if it were their modern-day world – imagining what life would be like if the steam power of the Industrial Revolution is what drives their modern technology instead of electricity... Steampunkers enjoy creating historical personas and design elaborate costumes to celebrate their love of history and adventure."

Ken Marks with the Hannibal History Museum, the main sponsor of the Big River Steampunk Festival (and Lisa's husband), explained that organizers tried very hard to make sure it was an interactive festival, with a lot of entertainment. A costume contest took place in the "Great Midway" off of Main Street at noon. Nerf dueling, a treasure hunt, and seminars on various aspects of Steampunk were also part of Saturday's activities.

Marks said that the unique architecture of many of Hannibal's historic buildings makes America's Hometown the perfect setting for an event such as this. "You don't see these things in other small towns around Missouri."

While this year marks the first year of the Big River Steampunk Festival, Ken Marks says organizers fully intend for this event to become an annual tradition in Hannibal. "From what we can tell, this is going to be the first continuing Steampunk festival, or convention, in the state of Missouri."

The Big River Steampunk Festival continues through Sunday in downtown Hannibal.