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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Frog-Jumping Contest Participant
Frog-Jumping Contest Participant Photo: Bob Greeniee

National Tom Sawyer Days

This celebration originated in 1956 in Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain's boyhood hometown, with a Tom Sawyer fence-painting contest, sponsored by the Hannibal Jaycees, and a "Tom and Becky" contest, sponsored by the Hannibal Chamber of Commerce. In 1959, the event was moved to the Fourth of July. According to the chartering resolution, "the celebration is dedicated to the recognition of that most lovable, yet unpredictable phenomenon of our American society, the small boy and his fascination for the big river as immortalized by Mark Twain."

Events include fence-painting and frog-jumping contests, and the selection of a new Tom and Becky to reign over the festival and represent the town at other events. A parade features contest entrants, floats, and bands. Designed and executed by the Hannibal Jaycees, a spectacular fireworks display draws visitors from a 100-mile radius. The festival is in its 44th year. Project materials include photos, slides and a report.

Originally submitted by: Kenny C. Hulshof, Representative (9th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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