HANNIBAL, Mo. -- This weekend, the organizers of the Brew Skies Music Festival are bringing some big-name musical artists to Hannibal.
The festival, now in its third year, will kick off Friday night and run through Sunday night at the Mark Twain Cave Campground. In addition to music, the event includes a 5K run, a VW parade, the HAHA Homebrew Competition, a children's petting zoo and other activities.
Advance tickets can be purchased at County Market stores in Hannibal, Quincy, Ill., and Palmyra. Advance tickets are $15 for Friday, $20 for Saturday and $10 for Sunday. Children 12 and younger will be admitted free. The event will be held rain or shine.
Jason Gregory, a festival organizer, encourages attendees to park downtown and take the Brew Skies trolleys to the festival grounds. Trolleys will run from the opening to closing of each day. The Hannibal Trolley Company is located at 220 N. Main St. in downtown Hannibal. Each trolley ride costs $3.
Gregory also says attendees are welcome to bring a lawn chair into the festival. He also says that during the ongoing flooding, the cave and campground have remained dry and are safe.
This year's lineup features national, regional and local touring acts with live performances set for all three days of the festival.
Among the local acts are the Flood Brothers, Hannibal natives who play a mix of blues, folk and rock music.
Regional acts include such groups as St. Louis' Falling Fences and Columbia's the Kay Brothers, both of whom perform folk and Americana. The Kay Brothers also play a little bluegrass.
The Well Hungarians and Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters, popular regional bands who have not played Hannibal in awhile according to Gregory, are also on the lineup.
The national acts consist of Melanie and the Verve Pipe.
Melanie, an original 1969 Woodstock performer, is often referred to as the first lady of Woodstock, according to Gregory, who is very excited for her Brew Skies' appearance.
"It's the 50th anniversary of Woodstock ... and getting her to Hannibal on this significant year, we were very excited about that," he said. "Melanie sold 80 million albums and had continued success through the '70s, '80s, '90s, and beyond. She does a great bit of storytelling about her Woodstock experience that really describes what it was like to be at that cultural event."
The Verve Pipe will bring a bit of a different vibe to the festival, standing out as a popular '90s alt-rock band. Among its major hits is "The Freshmen" off the 1996 album "Villains."
As for the events and activities outside of music, the 5K will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday. So far, 120 participants have registered for the run. Although online registration has ended, Gregory encourages anyone who wishes to participate to come out between 7 and 8 a.m. Saturday at Sawyer's Creek, where the race will begin and end, to register for $35. Proceeds from the run benefit the Hannibal Pirate Pride Band.
As a part of the VW Parade, over 100 vintage Volkswagens will be traveling to Hannibal from nine different states. Many will be at the festival all three days.
Saturday morning, these Volkswagens will partake in a caravan that will travel from the Mark Twain Cave to Main Street, where the parade will start at 9:30 a.m.
Mobile Funk Unit, a marching funk band out of Columbia, will provide live entertainment on the parade route, which starts at the top of North Main Street and ends at the intersection of Main and Broadway.
Afterwards, the festival's annual vintage VW car show will take place. Viewers will get to see buses, Beetles, dune buggies and more.
The HAHA Homebrew Competition -- always a big draw -- will be held Saturday afternoon and features 22 competing brewers.
"The HAHA Homebrew Competition is a great educational tasting where people learn a lot about different styles of beer, how they're made," Gregory said. "It is the largest public homebrew tasting in Northeast Missouri."
In addition to the children's petting zoo, Gregory says the festival will have a huge variety of kid-related vendors. The Hannibal Arts Council will also present a painting experience for children, who will be able to use finger paints to paint a real 1974 Volkswagen Beetle.
"That's always a very popular attraction," Gregory said. "A dozen kids or more at a time work on that car. The design changes hourly. It's pretty neat to see that progress."
Gregory says the festival is growing and has been a huge success so far. He hopes to see the success continue this weekend.
"We want to have something unique and something genuine and creative that draws people to Hannibal, and so far, that's what we've seen," he said. "We've got people driving cars that are 50 years old 1,000 miles to spend three days in Hannibal. We want to continue to bring people to the community and to get the community to support the festival."
Most importantly, Gregory hopes to raise money for the Hannibal Nutrition Center, an organization that aims to provide meals and daily contact to seniors in the Hannibal area. Festival proceeds benefit the center.
Gregory is especially hopeful that the festival will raise a significant amount of money this year. The organization lost its executive director, Debbie Catlett, earlier this year. As a result, the center could not hold the dinner auction -- its largest fundraiser -- this year.
"That was a loss of around $40,000 in revenue to the center," Gregory said. "The only thing that we have to try to make good on that, to make up for that, is Brew Skies Music Festival. We're really hoping that people turn out and support it and that we can make that up to them from their previous fundraiser."
More information about the festival is available online at hannibalbrews.com.