Everyone knows Mark Twain’s classic characters Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. Twain famously chronicled their adventures growing up in the 1840s along the Mississippi River. Ready to relive some of those days?

Photo credit: Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau

By Peg Cameron Gill

Kick off your Fourth of July weekend in historic Hannibal at National Tom Sawyer Days. A Hannibal tradition for 68 years, National Tom Sawyer Days is a slice of Americana. Come celebrate Mark Twain’s most famous character with five full days of family fun, June 30–July 4.

Photo credit: Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau

Step back to simpler times. Watch frog jumping. Try your hand at carnival games. Play painter in a fence painting contest. Compete in mud volleyball, or a horseshoe tourney. Shop the arts and crafts festival. Listen to lots of live music, sample food booths, and much more. 

Get a gander at Hannibal’s official Tom and Becky. And of course, watch a patriotic parade and fireworks on the Fourth of July!

Photo credit: Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’re in for good old-fashioned fun at Hannibal’s National Tom Sawyer Days.

A bit about Twain’s inspiration for his famous character:

Twain, who was born Samual Clemens, based Tom and Huck’s hometown of St. Petersburg on his own hometown of Hannibal. But over the years, there’s been debate about whether or not Twain’s two fictional boyhood buddies, Tom and Huck, were inspired by real life residents of Hannibal.

In an interview with the Minnesota Tribune on January 25, 1885, Twain claimed that Huckleberry Finn was not inspired or based on any one particular person. But Twain later changed his story, and said a childhood acquaintance named Tom Blankenship was his original inspiration for Huck Finn.

In his autobiography, Twain wrote: “In ‘Huckleberry Finn’ I have drawn Tom Blankenship exactly as he was. He was ignorant, unwashed, insufficiently fed; but he had as good a heart as ever any boy had. His liberties were totally unrestricted. He was the only really independent person—boy or man—in the community, and by consequence, he was tranquilly and continuously happy and envied by the rest of us. And as his society was forbidden us by our parents the prohibition trebled and quadrupled its value, and therefore we sought and got more of his society than any other boy’s.”

Could Tom Sawyer’s first name, Tom, also have been a nod to Tom Blankenship? That we’ll likely never know. 

You can read more about Twain’s relationship with the mighty Mississippi in this Missouri Life article.

For hundreds more events, visit Missouri Life’s Event Calendar.