Thinking towards next year and the Big River Steampunk Festival
Hey guys, I know I’m not super active(damned RL and having bills and jobs and such) but I thought I would start the ball rolling on this NOW so we could possibly have a presence at this festival next year.
Hannibal Missouri is, as anyone at all literate in 19th century American Literature knows, the hometown of Samuel Clemens, better knows as Mark Twain. It is also where my dad and his whole family was born and raised and so I spent a lot of time there as a child/teenager when we would go visit my uncle and cousins. My dad is gone now and I only have the one uncle left, but all my cousins still live there and so every Labor Day weekend(anniversary of my dad’s birthday and the week after my uncle’s), we all head down there for a big get together.
Anyone who has ever been to Hannibal, or any other mid sized river town, can attest to the fact that it really isn’t all that much. If it wasn’t for all the Mark Twain stuff, the town would have dried up ages ago. I of course, am sentimentally attachted to Hannibal because of family ties and kind of like the old river/railroad hub vibe it gives off. A couple of years ago the Hannibal History Museum and the local Chamber of Commerce apparently did some brainstorming and came up with the idea of a steampunk themed festival to try to bring new visitors to the town. There is already a folk art/ history type festival in October that is pretty big and some stuff in the spring and summer that brings people in, plus there is a river boat that does afternoon and overnight runs on the river every day during the spring/summer.
Last year was the first year of the Big River Steampunk Festival and while it was pretty small(all the vendors and entertainment stage fit in one city block, plus a couple of local bars had events in the evening), Mister Tea and I liked what we saw. Plus it was a break from listening to my family talk about the latest St. Louis Cardnials game and local football(I love my family, but there is a reason why my dad was the only one who left Hannibal as a young man and never went back). I hoped that it would do well, but kind of brainfarted and forgot all about it until about two weeks ago when my sister sent me a link to the Big River Steampunk Festival’s FB page. There were twice as many vendors this year and three days and nights worth of entertainment this year. I talked to someone when I got home last Sunday night and he said he recognized some of the names as being decently prominent in the steampunk scene and that a lot of them went to Hannibal because they couldn’t get into the venues at Dragon Con.
I don’t know much about THAT, but I know that there was a lot more to do this time around, and I even had to miss a bunch on Saturday night(my cousin decided to capitalize on the whole family being in town anyway to go ahead and plan his wedding for that weekend and I would have never heard the end of it if I skipped his wedding for some weird steampunk party-my family has NO IDEA what any of this stuff is.) There were parades Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning, stuff for kids and families, stuff for grownups only(pub crawl Friday night, dances Saturday and Sunday and a burlesque show), one whole street block was shut off for tea dueling and nerf dueling, vendors in two different locations and a circus sideshow type show. There was even a fancy dance event on the riverboat which I really REALLY wanted to go to, but we went home Sunday afternoon, plus as I said earlier, I brainfarted and had nothing to wear. A corset and hotpants does not an outfit make, and while it would be entertaining, I’m sure my cousin’s son in law would really not like to have to arrest me for public indecency(he’s the county sheriff, seriously), though it would make for a fun story at the family picnic on Sunday.
So, in all this rambling stuff, I think it would be great to try to have enough of us Toy Soldiers show up next year in force. I know there are several of us here in the midwest that a trek to Hannibal wouldn’t be too terrible-it’s about a 2 1/2 hour drive for me, but I am going to be there anyway so I’ve already made the plans. This year, my sister-in-law invited herself along with us and we had a great time being goofy Friday night during the Wicked Hannibal Pub Crawl and after I got out of the wedding stuff, we did the Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tour at the Old Baptist Cemetery on Saturday. Plus, as this is a fairly new event, it would be great to support a fledgling steampunk event that isn’t on the East or West Coast. I get a lot of vibes in online forums that anything that happens between New York and LA is just stupid fluff and we’re all just a bunch of bumpkins who have no clue what style or anything artistic is and it really irritates the hell out of me. Some of us have no desire or the means to hop on a plane and go to the big events on the coasts and if we want something closer to home, we need to support these up and coming events. The fact that this one is in Hannibal, which has a special place in my heart, is just a happy bonus.
Labor Day was last weekend so we have pretty much an entire year to plan for next year. I will get the link to the Hannibal History Museum and the Big River Steampunk Festival so we can monitor them and see what’s happening or if some of us are interested in vending or entertaining, contact them about an official Toy Soldier presence. I can also start posting links for hotels/motels/bed and breakfasts in Hannibal as I’ve stayed at several of them and can give reviews. I think this could be a really fun thing for us midwestern Soldiers and it may become even bigger. Plus, I get the added bonus of showing my family that I’m not the only crazy one-that I have a whole crew of fellow crazy people who do the same crazy things!
Sorry I haven’t updated with any new information lately-work has been crazy and this weekend was a holiday so I was kind of busy.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to tell yet. I went to the website for the Hannibal Historical Museum and they still only have stuff from this year’s event up on their site. Granted, once Labor Day weekend was over, it’s pretty slow for them until spring-Hannibal is very much a spring/summer tourist destination. There are a few events in September and October, but after that it slows down until spring.
I will put up the website for the museum so if they update soon, we can check it form here and see what is going on. I am still planning on going next year and hope to have outfits to wear when I’m not doing family stuff. I may be in Hannibal later this winter as I got some bad news about my uncle-he has cancer and I haven’t heard back how bad it is so….
When it gets closer, I will start sending out feelers to see who might be interested in also going to it and maybe we can find out about being in the parade or having some sort of official presence-if it’s only going to be me, I might have handouts but it would be silly to just have one of us in the parade.
Here’s the museum address:
New update! Sorry it’s been so long, but there wasn’t a whole lot of stuff going on on the Big River site or the Hannibal History Museum site for a bit.
This year’s event will be Sept 3-5, Labor Day weekend, also the same weekend of Dragon Con. There was some vendor sign up stuff posted but it said the deadline was March 1, 2015, and it’s 2016, so if that was something anyone was interested in, you may want to email the organizers at the site about that. There is also still not much as far as events scheduled or who’s going to be there, but they are still getting things nailed down.
Fun note-I was in Hannibal over this Easter weekend, mostly to see my uncle, who has been going through chemo and radiation for lung cancer, but he seems to be doing fairly well, considering he’s 81 and a horrible chain smoker. We had a couple of good visits, though neither my husband nor I could take being at his house for more than two hours with all the cigarette smoke. But he is in good spirits and watches his ball games and smokes his cigs and drinks his beer and avoids attempts by his kids(my cousins) to try to get him to move into town with one of them. The O’Briens are a stubborn lot.
But, back to the Big River Steampunk Festival. While we were in Hannibal, we wandered down Main Street and hit a lot of the shops there, including one run by the people behind the Hannibal Historical Museum and the main people behind the BRSF, Ken and Lisa Marks. We ended up chatting with Ken for probably an hour after I bought some cute things at the shop-they have quirky cards/paper goods, vintage inspired acccessories and they do classes and workshops on jewelry making and other crafts-we had just missed a workshop on how to take wine bottles and repurpose them. He said that there would be several performers returning, including the Steampunk Stompers, out of Florida(they have a FB page if you want to check them out). I also think Doc Phineas is returning, but I’m not 100% on that so anyone interested in his stuff should check out his FB page too. Several vendors are also returning but Ken didn’t mention who specifically. He said they didn’t want it to feel like a “same old, same old” event with the exact same acts and vendors every year, but wanted to keep some and add new groups to create more interest. There will also be hot air balloon rides again, but he said this year would probably be the last year for that. And one of the changes will be streamlining things like the costuming contests(he said it took WAAY too long last year and there were a lot of repeats from one day to the next). Someone out of Kansas City may be doing something she calls Teapot Races, so that should be added to the FB page soon. It sounded, at least from his description, like this woman has taken RC cars and popped the car bodies off and put teapots on and then you race them or maybe it’s like a little demo derby. Either way, it sounds silly and quirky and fun.
One of Ken’s big problems, in his words, is that there isn’t really one good large place to have a bigger name act perform. Hannibal has a lot of hotels and motels and B&Bs, but there isn’t one with a large banquet hall or place to have inclosed conferences or concerts. So he says he can’t really book a really big name act like Steam Powered Giraffe or Abney Park, because there just isn’t a place to have a large event and keep it contained. Several bars can do smaller things, but he said they ran into a snag last year with Unwoman, where she was able to commit to doing a couple of shows if they could be guaranteed to be bigger draws and then Ken said that the volunteers running the ticket/info booth lost or misplaced about half the tickets to Unwoman’s events and then just told people it was sold out so one of her shows only had about 40 people there. He says he will be taking better control of some of those types of things so that doesn’t happen again, but a lot of their work is done by volunteers and a handful of people he trusts and well, any large event can be chaos.
Another beef for a lot of people was that it was mostly outdoors and it was super hot last year and could they change the date to later in September. Ken says they are holding firm on Labor Day weekend as it’s pretty much a last hurrah of the summer tourist season and there are several established events in Hannibal later in the fall that they can’t displace. So they did get some large tents to help with sun/heat issues, or rain, if it ended up being one of those cooler, rainy Labor Day weekends(weather in the Midwest is always a crapshoot). I said that maybe people should think outside the box and go with warm weather steampunk gear instead of suiting up in leather and velvet, but that’s just me LOL
Anyway, we had a good chat with him and I think we gave him a few good ideas going forward. So keep looking at the Big River FB pages and their website that I gave links for in my first post, and check out the Hannibal History Museum pages too. As it gets closer, they will have more stuff up as far as setting schedules and signing acts and vendors.
I’ll be there either way to see my uncle and at least this time I don’t have any cousins getting married!
I know I haven’t updated here in a while, but I did post links to things on the FB page. Anyway, the big weekend is coming up fast. I plan on taking a bunch of pictures and will post them on the official FB page and here. I don’t know if anyone else will be there( I know several of you are going to DragonCon so….), but I will post a reminder on the FB page so maybe if any other soldiers are going to Hannibal, we could meet up. It would be super cool to meet face to face.
I do want to apologise for not keeping on top of this. I suppose it’s a good thing I’m not in charge of anything official. Between the grind of work getting me down and a couple of deaths this year that have hit me hard, this kind of snuck up on me. I’m still working on my outfit and we are heading down next Friday. Procrastinators Unite LOL
So the Big River Steampunk Festival was last weekend and the Mr and I went, saw and conquered. Well, I don’t know about that last part, but we had a ton of fun and even met a couple of fellow Soldiers in the process. I’m going to attempt to pstt some on the FB page, but here’s a little taste of what happened.
Friday, not much was going on, other than the Pub Crawl, which of course, one must be 21 to participate in. When I went to get the tickets for that event, as well as the tickets for all the premium events we were going to do( Afternoon Tea, Balloon Rides, the Steamapoloosa, the Burley Que, etc), they didn’t have my name on the list. After a few rounds of phone tag and a near melt down on my part(I had spent almost $400 on tickets for 8 of us for the events), Lisa, one of the founders and main organizers of the event, was able to go into their logs and find my initial purchase through PayPal and get tickets for us. She is a saint, and I hugged her a lot. We drank a decent amount at the Crawl, and made our way back to our hotel without incident.
Saturday was the main kickoff to the Festival and the Mr and I dressed as steampunk Pokemon trainers/hunters. He was Professor Artemis Willow, and I was Ashley Ketchum. We got suckered into entering the daily costume contest and ended up making the final round. We lost to a really awesome mermaid girl. There were costume contests Saturday, Sunday and Monday, as well as beard/facial hair contests. The Mr entered Saturday’s, but there were a lot of much more, enthusiastic bearded men who got really fancy with their facial hairdos, so he didn’t even place. I also went to the Afternoon Tea with my niece and my nephew’s girlfriend and we were seated with a couple from Wisconsin and two other women, one from Chicago and one from Kansas City. Queen Victoria and Mr Brown even made an appearance. There were teapot races, which my nephew and niece entered, but neither won and a bunch of free entertainment on the main stage and over by the midway, where all the vendors were. There was a LOT of stuff to look at and buy, some of it affordable and some a bit steep(seriously, one vendor had some very nice clothing, but $200 for a simple skirt made out of $10 worth of material is a bit excessive). Books, gadgets, tea, chainmail jewelry, patches, herbal mixtures to make your own absinthe infusions, natural soaps and beard products, hats, more hats and more hats.
Later that afternoon, I met up with Melissa, a fellow Soldier from nearby Mexico, Missouri and we had an early dinner before splitting up to do some other things before the Steamapoloosa concert featuring Doc Phineas as the announcer and Frenchy and the Punk and Marquis of Vaudville. I had heard of both of them but never heard any of their music. I bought cds from both and Melissa and I met up during the show. She got to see what happens when my husband and my niece are out together in public and drinking-it involves a lot of silliness and giggling like schoolgirls and being total smart asses-she’s at least 23 and so one expects that sort of thing. The Mr is 43 and the two of them are like two peas in a pod, an annoying, loudmouthed, giggling pod. I can’t take them anywhere together LOL After the show, Rachel, my niece was going to go to the Late Night Ghost Adventure hosted by Doc Phineas so we had to get her there despite all of us being in various states of inebriation. We left her to meet up with her brother, and we stumbled off to have a few drinks before walking back to the hotel.
Sunday, the only major event the Mr and I were doing was going to the Burley Que at 11pm. Neither of us had been to a burlesque show before, and it was a lot of fun. We had to dress up in our outfits from the previous day because one of the guys doing a lot of the hosting of events said some of the girls wanted to see my brass Pokeball so I got laced back up into my corset and we went to the show. We also had my family picnic to go to that afternoon so we missed a bunch of stuff, but my sister in law and her crew did the Balloon rides, the murder mystery and a few of them checked out the Mark Twain Cave.
Monday was kind of the wrap up day-there was a full roster of events but it was all done by 4pm. We made sure to go check out the booth that Airship Isabella had, as Melissa had told me one of the guys there was also a fellow Soldier. One of them had a full suit of leather armor that was Pokemon themed so he was pretty jazzed about my Pokeball. We went and talked to Little Beard, one of the mcs for the event about some stuff and then we got packed up to head home, making a quick stop to visit my uncle. I know I talked about him in another post here-he’s been going through chemo for lung cancer and just turned 82 a couple of weeks ago. Not too long after I visited him at Easter, he was finally convinced by his kids, my cousins, that he needed to move into town. My cousin Tracy is now making sure he actually eats and gets to his doctor appointments and all that stuff. He calls her The Warden because she won’t let him smoke in her house and she calls him The Inmate, but he’s got the cushiest “jail cell” I’ve ever seen-he has a big screen tv and a basket full of snacks that is restocked daily with Pop Tarts, candy and pretzels so even though he may grumble, he’s got a pretty good deal now.
Anyway, it was an amazing weekend and we are already planning for next year. I will post pix on the FB page because I can’t seem to figure out how to do it here because I”m an old. Hopefully, I can get organized enough to get an actual invasion planned for next year and get more Midwestern Soldiers involved. Every year is a little bit bigger and better and this year was pretty flipping amazing so next year should totally rock too.
It is most definately worth your time and money. Like I said earlier, every year has improved on the previous year’s event. The first year, everything was contained on one lot-vendors, tiny stage and info/merchanidse booth. Last year the lot was where the main stage and info booth was and one block’s worth of street was blocked off for Nerf dueling and other events and the vendors were down the alley into the nearby park. This year the lot was where the Airship Village was, two blocks worth of street were fenced off for the stage, info booth, teapot races, ballroom dancing lessons and some vendors. The rest were down the alley again and in the park where they were last year AND there were performers at that park as well as the main stage.
The first year, there were no nightly events, only the pub crawl on Friday night. Last year, in addition to the crawl, there was a dance Saturday, the Burlesque show Sunday and Time Traveler’s Ball on the riverboat. This year, there was also a concert Saturday night and the Burlesque show Saturday and Sunday. There was also an Afternoon Tea, two Cabaret shows on Saturday and Sunday, a Murder Mystery(that my sister in law went to and said was kind of lame, but I think they wanted to have something “all ages” to balance out the Burlesque which was 21 and over), the Balloon rides on Sunday and two lectures by Doc Phineas about Voodoo up and down the Mississippi River and Twain’s Travels to India. We made it to the voodoo talk but not the other one on Sunday-that’s when we were at my family picnic, which is NOT to be missed for the fried chicken and carrot cake. Seriously, there have been cat fights over the carrot cake.
What’s kind of weird about the whole thing is that people from all over the country seem to know about this event now, or at least, are beginning to hear about it, but a lot of the locals still have no clue what “steampunk” is. I’ve had to try to explain it to my cousins the last two years now and I kind of gave up this year. It’s like Ken and Lisa get things out to the press and have the FB pages but no one in Hannibal bothers to even pay attention to it until the town has been invaded and they are all like “WTF is going on?” Two different restaurants downtown(where everything was going on all weekend) that we ate at on Sunday were running out of food. One was a bar that has pretty decent sandwiches and they said they hadn’t been sure how much to order and they were out of onion rings and almost out of fries by Sunday afternoon. The other is an italian place that does decent pasta and amazing pizza(they have a wood fired brick oven they bake all their pizzas in and it is to die for), and when we went there Sunday night before the Burlesque show, the poor hostess was almost in tears because they were running out of things and locals kept coming in trying to make carry out orders when there was a sign on the door clearly stating they were not doing carry out all weekend.
Anyway, I’m already plotting for next year and I think my sister in law and niece are too-I think her brother was content to check it out this year but may pass next year. I’m hoping to be better organized for next year, and I really really hope I don’t have more traumatic deaths to deal with like I did this year that distracted me from planning better for this year.
UPDATED FOR 2017! The new 2017 site is up. All the info right now is for potential vendors and signing up for entertainment, but the dates for this year are set. The deadline for vendors is April 1, and there is a place to send your info if you’re interested in performing.
Oh, and not that it is important at all, but when you click on the site, and the banner at the top comes up, a pic of ME in my steampunk Pokemon hunter guise is one of the photos featured! I’m still doing the “Kermit the Frog flailing and yelling” every time I see it!
Go check it out, and if you’re in the area and crafty, maybe sign up to be a vendor. It’s a bit pricy at $175, but the event goes three days and every year has doubled in size so it may be worth the price for what you would be able to make as a vendor.
I’ll try to be better this year about posting updates, but instead of deaths in the family, this time it’s medical emergencies that are distracting me. My mother-in-law is in the hospital right now so this last week has been stressful for me and the Mister. Hopefully, she will be on the mend soon and as excited as I am for new stuff for this year’s BRSF(she loved our pix from last year and had talked about maybe coming this year, but as she just had major heart surgery, she’s probably not going to feel up to tromping around with us this year either).
OK, I don’t know why it wouldn’t just let me edit the previous post to add the link to the site, but I’ll just make a new post instead.
Here’s the new link:
Hey all, it’s been a bit. Not a lot to add, the deadline for vendors and entertainment is the end of this month I think, so they still don’t have a lot up on the main page as far as schedules or who will be there. I do know for sure that Doc Phineas will be there, he’s already mentioned it a couple of times on his FB page and I think Little Beard and Jell E Bean will also be there with their foul mouthed pirate crew. Other than that, it will probably take another month before a more defined schedule of events will be up.
Mister Tea and I went down to Hannibal again over Easter as we had Good Friday off. At least this year, since Easter was in April, most of the stores were open(a lot of them close entirely, or have limited hours during the winter and don’t start summer hours until April). The trolley, Ghost tours and Riverboat are running again, but the riverboat is only doing one trip per day, probably because it’s mostly weekend traffic. Once summer hits, there will be more happening. We’re planning on going back down 4th of July week because we’ll have the whole week off from work and maybe I can chat with Lisa or Ken and have more to tell here.
The main focus of our trip this time was to see my uncle Jerry. He’s still kicking, but he’s been fighting lung cancer for 2 years now, and he has declined noticably since last September. I’m glad we went down to see him last weekend because I honestly don’t know how much longer he will be here, as horrible as it is to think about. He still goes out every morning and gets his newspaper and coffee and cigarettes(he’s 82, why stop now I guess…), but my cousin Tracy told me that he had just gotten out of the hospital with pneumonia a couple of weeks before and she was afraid he wouldn’t leave the hospital so, yeah, it’s been a tough winter for my Hannibal family. Fingers crossed, and positive thoughts though. I told him that we were coming down in July so he had better be there to see us and he said he would and O’Brien’s do love to talk so….
Anyway, keep checking out the BRSF site and the FB page and hopefully a bunch of us can have a meet up this year!
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