HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Annika Brownfield and her friends at Iron Rose Productions, an entertainment company based in Tulsa, Okla., barely finished their airship in time for the fourth annual Big River Steampunk Festival held this weekend in downtown Hannibal.
They began building their fictional mode of transportation this summer and finished it Friday after arriving in Hannibal.
"The ship's maiden voyage was this weekend," Brownfield explained. "We were rushing to get it finished in time, and then when we finished it, we realized we needed a ladder. We quickly made one, and I had our largest guy test it out once it was done."
Their hard work paid off.
Several festival attendees walked through the group's large black box, which included a moving ship wheel, air conditioning and interior decorations like books, and told them how much fun it is.
"Everything is family friendly in here," Brownfield said. "Kids want to pick up and touch stuff, and you can do that in our airship. People can interact with everything inside.
"We've done various (entertainment) themes like western, but steampunk is our calling. We have the most fun with it. This is our favorite show to do, and we're so excited to be here and hopefully be invited back the following year."
Attendees and entertainers at the Steampunk Festival this weekend echoed thoughts similar to Brownfield's: This event is one of their favorites, and they're looking forward to coming back next year.
"We're year-round entertainers, and this is one of our favorite festivals," said Texan Ashleigh Lynne Packard, who performs as escape artist Magnolia Strange. "The organizers do a great job, and there's always so much going on all day long. Attendees are energetic, and there are a lot of people coming in from all over the county. You can't find all of that at most festivals."
Attendee Emily Hinderliter of Glen Carbon, Ill., visited the festival for the first time Monday and joined in the fun of dressing up.
"I've always been a book nerd, and I like steampunk," she said. "I had a Steampunk-themed wedding, and I'm wearing my wedding corset today for this."
She was accompanied by her father, who dressed up, as well.
"We're just walking and checking out everything. I'd love to come back next time and bring my husband, too," Hinderliter said.
Last year, about 8,000 people attended the three-day festival, and organizers Lisa and Ken Marks of the Hannibal History Museum estimated that more people would attend in 2017.
During this year's festival, there were several events, workshops, seminars, contests, vendors, live entertainment and other activities centered around the themes of steampunk and the Victorian era. Many of the events were free; however, other events required an admission ticket to be purchased.
Festival proceeds benefit the nonprofit Hannibal History Museum.