A cross between the Wild West, the Victorian Era and science fiction is how Hannibal describes the Big River Steampunk Festival, the winner of this year’s Pathfinder Award presented at the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Tourism Sept. 25-27 in St. Charles.
Officials from the Missouri Division of Tourism say the award recognizes the efforts of individuals and organizations that successfully target specific niche markets.
The Big River Steampunk Festival, held annually during the Labor Day Weekend, is a celebration of invention, art and science. The event attracts a creative group of attendees – many in costume – imagining what life would be like if the steam power of the Industrial Revolution fueled modern technology.
The festival was created in 2014 by Hannibal residents Lisa and Ken Marks in an effort to boost tourism during the holiday weekend and raise funds to support the Hannibal History Museum.
The event has attracted larger crowds every year. In 2017, the fourth annual festival drew nearly 12,000 attendees from across the United States, England and Australia.
The festival includes costume contests, a historic homes tour, live music, a vaudeville show and tea with Queen Victoria. Workshops and panel discussions are provided for attendees interested in learning more about steampunk. The festival’s economic impact totaled more than $1.1 million dollars.
The Pathfinder Award was presented by Scott Hovis, chair of the Missouri Tourism Commission, and Ward Franz, director of the Missouri Division of Tourism.