Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who wrote under the pen name Mark Twain, has been hailed as the “greatest humorist the United States has produced.” And you can celebrate the 188th anniversary of his birth in a fabulously fun way on Nov. 25, 2023.

Photo Courtesy of the Hannibal Hannibal Convention & Visitors Bureau

By Peg Cameron Gill

Mark Twain is one of Missouri’s most famous sons. Today he’s best remembered as the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885); creating memorable and colorful characters navigating their childhood, as well as the Mississippi river.

Mark Twain’s birthday is a fun event to celebrate, and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home invites everyone to join some unique festivities to mark the famous author’s 188th birthday on Saturday, Nov. 25.

Twain’s Old-fashioned Birthday Party is sponsored by the Mark Twain Museum and the Tom and Becky Program and is free for children ages 2 through age 10, accompanied by an adult.

The party will take place from 1–2 PM. on the main floor of the Museum Gallery at 120 N. Main in Hannibal.

The fun begins with games, crafts, and cupcakes. Pre-registration is suggested due to limited space, and the museum can be contacted at (573) 221-9010 to reserve a spot at this special event.

The birthday bash will include crafts like decorating party hats and wooden ornaments, making beaded necklaces, and old-fashioned games with a twist, like Pin the Stache on Twain and Musical Mustaches!

After the party, the 10th Annual Mustache and Beard Competition will take place. The virtual and in-person event begins at 3 PM, with three mustache and three beard categories. The contestants may “face” some tough competition. Victors may only win by a hair, and there could be some close shaves.

Categories in the Beard Competition include:

  1. Goatee – The goatee (and mustache) are well maintained but without any styling aids. Mustache should not be curled. Judges are looking for that natural look.
  2. Full Beard Natural – Do you have the beard to top all others? The Full Beard Natural may not be curled, and both beard (and mustache) should be natural in color. No styling aids are allowed.
  3. Freestyle – Let your creativeness take over in the Freestyle category. No limit to the artistic elements which can be added, and it is open to all beard and stache designs.

Categories in the StacheCompetition include:

  1. Dapper Stache – Full of originality where styling aids are acceptable and encouraged. The addition of mustache/hair wax, hair spray, hair lacquer, hair gel and styling foams are all acceptable.
  2. The Manliest Stache – Is your mustache as impressive as Burt Reynolds’ or Tom Sellecks’? Then this category is for you. Open to all natural staches.
  3. The Mark Twain Stache – The Mark Twain Museum’s Mustache Competition would not be complete if we didn’t add Twain’s famous witty mustache, more commonly referred to as “The Walrus.” It is busy, and full, drooping over the mouth and also extending downward at each corner.

Will handlebars be on hand? Will a Fu Manchu come through? Maybe mutton chops will be tops. Or a brush bristle-style Charlie Chaplin. Which stache will win for being a  Twain twin?  Stick around for the competition and find out!

A $5 donation for each category will be sent to the James E. Cary Cancer Center in honor of “No-Shave November.” Prizes will be awarded to winners in each of the sixth categories. The competition is sponsored by Schmidt & White Barbershop and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum.

The competition will be followed by a 5 PM tree lighting ceremony, and after that you can take a tour of Twain’s  festively lit home.

Another special event happening that same weekend in Hannibal on Saturday, Nov. 25th, 2023 is the Victorian Festival of Christmas, which  transforms the historic downtown into a winter wonderland! Learn more here.

To read more about Mark Twain and his life on the Mississippi, click here.

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