Hannibal News

Several events planned this week to celebrate Jim's Journey anniversary

Historical re-enactor John Anderson, left, will portray his great-great-great-uncle, Tom Bass, during the “Our Town FunFest” Saturday afternoon at Jim’s Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center in Hannibal. | Submitted Photo
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 18, 2019 12:30 am Updated: Sep. 18, 2019 1:02 am

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Several events are planned for this week to commemorate the sixth anniversary of Jim's Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center in Hannibal.

The center -- the first black history museum in Northeast Missouri -- opened six years ago in a historic stone building at 509 N. Third. The exhibit-filled center serves as a focal point for local black history and related activities.

The main event celebrating the center's anniversary is the "Our Town FunFest" slated for 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday on the grounds of the center, with food, music, trivia games and other attractions scheduled for the afternoon.

The headliner for the FunFest will be John Anderson of Kansas City, a historical re-enactor who portrays his great-great-great-uncle -- Missouri native Tom Bass, a former slave who became an "equestrian extraordinaire," according to Faye Dant, executive director of Jim's Journey. Anderson's performance will begin at 2 p.m.

Bass grew up in Ashland, south of Columbia, and moved to Mexico, Mo., after the Civil War to work as a stable boy. In time, however, he developed considerable skill in riding and training horses.

Dant said Bass opened his own stable in 1883 and became "the Jackie Robinson of the horse world."?Bass helped organize the first American Royal horse show, and he represented Missouri at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Bass also met several presidents because of his horsemanship skills, trained horses for Ringling Brothers Circus and invented the "Bass bit," a mechanism commonly used to prevent a horse's mouth from being injured during training.

Another horse-related attraction at Saturday's FunFest will be Kyla McMillen of New London, a stable owner who plans to bring her trained horse, Cheyenne, to give demonstrations.

A second activity being held in conjunction with the Jim's Journey anniversary is a Robert Townsend movie marathon Thursday and Friday at the Hannibal Free Public Library, 200 S. Fifth St.

Townsend is an African-American writer, producer, director and actor who was born in Chicago, a son of Robert and Shirley Longmeyer.

"His mom was raised here" in Hannibal, Dant said, and Townsend would occasionally come to Hannibal in the summers to visit relatives.

Movie showings at the library are planned for 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Thursday and 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Friday. More information is available by calling 573-221-0222.

A third event celebrating the Jim's Journey anniversary will take place at 6 p.m. Friday at Mark Twain Brewing Co., 422 N. Main, when the brewery host an adults-only event to unveil a new beer, "Jim's River." The rye pale ale is named for the escaped slave character who fled to freedom in Mark Twain's novel, "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

Dant said a portion of the proceeds from sales of "Jim's River" will be turned over to Jim's Journey.

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