Tom Sawyer Days: Hannibal, Missouri

When I got out of the Peace Corps, a friend and I traveled across the U.S. mostly by bus. This was a grand plan to avoid getting a job for four months and to take the time to see parts of the country we hadn’t seen before. It worked beautifully and that was the best summer ever. My most favorite place we visited was the place she wanted to go to the least.

“HANNIBAL, CANNIBAL! Why DO YOU WANT TO GO TO HANNIBAL, MISSOURI?!” was her reaction when I told her the very one thing I thought we should not miss on our journey from the East Coast to the West Coast.

I was stubborn and turned to the pages in Lets Go USA to show her the wonders. “Tom Sawyer Days, that’s why. This is small town America at its finest,” I said, hoping I was right and wouldn’t regret my determination.

Hannibal is the town that inspired Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) to write the books Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. What more reason is there than that when it comes to rediscovering an important part of Americana?

Still grousing a bit, my friend finally went along with my plan to buy a bus ticket to Hannibal from Des Moines, Iowa and from there we could buy a ticket to St. Louis for our continued trip westward. Hannibal was everything I imagined and even more charming than I expected. We splurged and stayed in a Bed & Breakfast, and spent the 4th of July going to the town parade, grabbing whatever candy was thrown our way, went to the free ice-cream social in the city park (We were the only ones there I think who were under retirement age), toured Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home and Museum, took The Mark Twain Riverboat trip on the Mississippi River and went to the family barbeque of the couple who owned the B&B. It could not have been a finer time. As for my friend, she was happy that I won the arguement.

Tom Sawyer Days,” July 3-July 7, is going on its 57th year of celebrating Mark Twain and what might be called, good clean, family fun. There is a variety of entertainment options throughout the week. There was a lot we missed.