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Special activities complement Wallenda walk; Events include RibFest, sideshow circus, outdoor parties and concerts

There will be no shortage of special activities in Niagara Falls next weekend for the crowds on both sides of the border. Businesses and attractions are anticipating that Nik Wallenda's wire-walk Friday night will draw tens of thousands of spectators to their cities.

People arriving early for the walk, which is set to start at 10:15 p.m., will have a lot to do and see to occupy themselves in the hours before the stunt begins.

There will be circus sideshow performers and an ex-Beatle, and not one but two people portraying Annie Edson Taylor, one of the earliest daredevils to go over the Horseshoe Falls in a barrel.

"Momentum is certainly building. There are more events being added to the calendar daily," said Michelle Blackley, communications manager for Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. of Niagara Falls, N.Y. "We think, overall, there's going to be plenty to do from morning until night."

Here are some things to look for:

>On the U.S. side,? history and dancing

*Old Falls Street hosts a circus-themed "Side Show" from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday.
There will be live music, street vendors, food, drinks and performances by acrobatics and fire eaters, and hula-hooping by Deep Roots Niagara and Charm City Movement Arts, among others.

"They're family-friendly activities, and a reason to stay in downtown Niagara Falls throughout the day," said Susan Swiatkowski, director of marketing for Old Falls Street USA.

Two giant screens showing Wallenda's walk will be set up on Old Falls Street (

*Oakwood Cemetery, 763 Portage Road, is holding "Where the Stunters Rest" tours to highlight the many famous residents of the 160-year-old cemetery. Actors and actresses will portray some of the daredevils buried there, including Taylor (the first person to survive a trip over the Falls in a barrel) and Maud Willard, a dance-hall actress who died in 1901 after attempting to shoot through the Whirlpool Rapids in a barrel with her dog, said Michelle Kratts, a cemetery volunteer and tour leader.

The cemetery is holding 45-minute walking tours at 2 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. and noon Saturday (

*Actors and actresses portraying Taylor and other historical figures also will appear at the Goat Island State Park from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday. The team from Encounter Niagara will illuminate the life and times of people such as inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, explorer Father Louis Hennepin, whose 1683 book told the European world about Niagara Falls, and early Falls settler Augustus Porter, as well as Maria Spelterini, the first woman tightrope walker to cross over Niagara Falls, in 1876.

"We are the official Annie Edson Taylor," Encounter Niagara owner Danielle Green insisted.

*The Hard Rock Cafe, 333 Prospect St., will host a 97 Rock Party Tent from 11 a.m. to midnight Friday.

Entrance to the tent is free; once inside, people can buy food and drinks, listen to live music and use "deluxe" restrooms, as well as watch the walk on a large-screen TV. A team from 97 Rock will broadcast live from the site all day.

*One Niagara, the "flash cube" building at 360 Rainbow Blvd. South, will offer three concerts of jazz music Friday afternoon and evening on its back patio.

The Jamie Holka Trio will perform from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., the Ron Corsaro Trio goes on from 3:45 to 5:45 p.m. and the Laurie Bordonaro Trio will play from 6 to 8 p.m.

"I recommended and suggested that we should be part of" the Wallenda excitement, said Richard F. Soluri, director of government and community affairs for One Niagara and the former Village of Lewiston mayor.

*NiagaraHub, a site devoted to community news, is holding a party in the parking lot of its offices at 630 Main St. beginning at 4 p.m. Friday and lasting well into the night. The celebration features music by the bands Whiskey Reverb and Scarlet Embrace and vendors selling food and arts and crafts (

"We're hoping it's so jam-packed [on Main Street] it becomes a party," said Chris Stoianoff, the Niagara Falls city historian and a founder of NiagaraHub.

>Canada celebrates?with tours, fireworks

Activities in Niagara Falls, Ont.

*Jonesy, a rock and pop cover band from the Niagara region, will play from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday in Queen Victoria Park, 6161 Niagara Parkway.

The Niagara Parks Commission will project the broadcast of the walk onto a giant screen on the concert stage, and will set off its regular Friday fireworks display at 11 p.m., after the walk, said Tony Baldinelli, a spokesman for the commission.

*Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band are performing the second of two concerts at the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort, 6380 Fallsview Blvd., at 7 p.m. Friday. The casino pushed up the start of the Friday concert from 9 to 7 to accommodate the Wallenda walk (

*For anyone willing to drive a little farther, you can get your hands on some slow-cooked meat at the Rotary Club of Niagara Falls' annual RibFest, to be held noon to 11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. next Sunday. The festival will be held in Optimist Park, 4709 Dorchester Road (

*Three buildings in Niagara Falls are part of next weekend's Binational Tourism Alliance's Doors Open Niagara event, which this year is showcasing sites and architecture of the 19th century to mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

The three Niagara Falls sites are: Battle Ground Hotel Museum, 6151 Lundy's Lane; Willoughby Historical Museum, 9935 Niagara Parkway; and Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 7820 Portage Road.

Most sites are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and next Sunday, but hours may vary at individual locations (

Also, on both sides of the border, traditional Falls attractions such as the Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds will be operating during the day (the Maid of the Mist has extended its hours to 8 p.m.), but they are likely to be crowded.