The Galesburg R.U.S.T. Steampunk Society will host the First Annual Big River Steampunk Festival Nerf Dueling Competition. In a recreation of a 19th century duel, contestants will use specially-designed Steampunk weapons repurposed from Nerf guns (spring-powered toys for children that, for some reason, adults also love to play with!). The soft, foam darts will render contestants eliminated yet in no way harmed.


For each duel, two duelists will stand back-to-back using the specially-crafted pistols. At the drop of a ladies handkerchief, they will advance seven paces, turn, and shoot. If an opponent is hit by a dart, he or she is eliminated. If both are hit, or if both miss, a rematch will commence. If still neither manage to hit their marks, or if both are hit, the match shall be decided by rock/paper/scissors (the only real way to solve such childish disputes).




For centuries, Duels were arranged engagements in combat between two individuals in an effort not so much to kill the opponent but to gain “satisfaction”, that is, to restore one’s honor by demonstrating a willingness to risk one’s life for it. Duels utilize matched weapons in accordance with agreed-upon rules (according to Wikipedia).

The reward for winning the duel is not only great honor and prestige, but you will also receive a special Medal of Honor to wear proudly on your breast…or wherever else you might like to wear it.


A thrice winning Duelist will be immortalized in a special, one-of-a-kind caricature portrait by noted cartoonist Dale Griffitts of Galesburg, Illinois. (That means you have to win three duels to get your portrait made as a prize).


The most courageous, swashbuckling, skillful pistol duelist (meaning the winner of the most duels) will take home a specially-designed commemorative Big River Steampunk Nerf Pistol.


Duelists may bring their own Steampunk weapon (Nerf bullets, only) or use one that is provided to them. Duelists may also bring their own “Second” (assistant) or one may be provided for them to assist with weapon choice and other necessary preparations before the Duel.


Registration for Nerf Dueling must be done in person at the Field of Honour (the alley east of Main Street near The Great Midway) and dueling will commence between 11:00am-Noon and 3:00-4:00pm. Each duel requires both duelists to make a  $1.00 cash donation to benefit the R.U.S.T. Society and the Hannibal History Museum.


For more information, please contact R.U.S.T. Society member Dale Griffitts at


In 1864, Hannibal’s own Mark Twain, then a contributor to the New York Sunday Mercury, narrowly avoided fighting a duel with a rival newspaper editor, apparently through the quick thinking of his "second", who exaggerated Twain's prowess with a pistol.

Sponsored By:

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Big River Steampunk Festival is Presented By:

Hannibal History Museum Foundation

200 N. Main Street

Hannibal, MO 63401

(573) 248-1819

a 501(c)(3) Missouri non-profit corporation

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