HANNIBAL, Mo., will host another tourism draw next September, adding to an already impressive list of attractions.
Mike Marx, a Hannibal resident and former Hollywood talent agent, believes that the three-day Mark Twain Nostalgic Film Festival could draw crowds from all over the country. He's speaking from experience because the festival has operated for 38 years in North Carolina as the Western Film Fair and Nostalgia Convention.
Adding Mark Twain to the mix, in the town immortalized in the author's writings, sounds like a winner.
Marx, who calls Hannibal "the gateway to America," has long helped recruit movie and television performers who headlined the North Carolina film fair. Now he'll try to bring in actors to Hannibal, where Twain's name continues to have considerable star power.
And because tourism is big business in Hannibal, the festival appears to be a good fit.
The boyhood home of Samuel Clemens, who wrote under the pen name of Mark Twain, along with a museum and visitors center, anchor a downtown cluster of historic sites that draw thousands of visitors each year. The Mark Twain Cave is another favored destination, and the restored home of "the unsinkable Molly Brown" adds variety.
Moreover, National Tom Sawyer Days, held each year around the Fourth of July holiday, is one of the region's biggest events. The Big River Steampunk Festival comes to town each year during the Labor Day weekend, and draws enthusiasts and spectators from a wide area.
In addition, the Fiesta del Sol brings craft beer and wines to Central Park in June, the Taste of Twain and the Harvest Hootenanny are held in September, and the Autumn Historic Folklife Festival is a staple every October.
For those events and many others, Hannibal and Twain's legacy serve as an important backdrop.
The Mark Twain Nostalgic Film Festival promises yet another opportunity for Hannibal to be a destination, enabling it to showcase a history that has earned it the title of "America's Hometown."