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BEST BETS

1. The brilliant colors of the season will provide the backdrop for the Erie County Parks 11th annual "Salute to Autumn," Saturday and Sunday in Sprague Brook Park off Route 240 south of Glenwood.

The schedule will kick off on Saturday with a one-mile fun run at 10 a.m. and a 5-kilometer European-style run through the woods at 10:30 a.m.

Other activities, both days from noon to 5 p.m., will include a farmers' market, fine arts and handmade crafts by more than 200 artists and crafters. Also featured for the eighth year will be an "All Car Get Together," a show of antique and classic cars.

Organized games will be conducted by the staff of the Recreation Department and children will be allowed to pet rabbits, goats and a baby lamb. There will be hayrides, live music and a chicken barbecue.

Free shuttle bus service will be available to the Bureau of Forestry, where tours will be given of the sawmill, which will be operating. Admission is free to all events.

2. The pots will be simmering during the second annual Chowder Cook-Off at the Tonawandas' Heritage Coalition Days.

Chowder sales begin at noon Saturday at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, 180 Thompson Road, North Tonawanda.

On Sunday between noon and 5 p.m., visitors are invited to tour the Carrousel Museum to ride an antique carousel; to ride on a handcar at the Railroad Museum; to hear the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ at the Riviera Theatre; to view artworks at the Carnegie Art Center; to watch a weaving demonstration at the Long Homestead; to visit the Historical Society of the Tonawandas and the Tonawanda Armory during its centennial year.

Admission ($4 for adults, $1 for children) includes all sites. Call 693-1885 for information.

3. Weigh to go!

The World Pumpkin Weigh-Off takes place on Saturday, with the winner announced at noon during a Fall Festival. Last year's winner weighed a record 1,061 pounds. This year the event is at a new location -- The Great Pumpkin Farm, 11199 Main St., Clarence (just past Clarence Flea Market).

But there's plenty more to do with pumpkins than just weighing them -- there's pumpkin bowling, carving and throwing. Also, seed spitting, pie baking and eating contests.

Kraft Foods, a corporate sponsor, will conduct a costume contest, offering $500 in cash to winners.

The festival begins at noon on Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, closing at dusk each day. Admission is $3; children 4 and under get in for free.

4. Walkin' Jim Stoltz walks into Buffalo.

Stoltz, guitarist, folk singer and back-country traveler, will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Harlem Road Community Center, 4255 Harlem Road, Amherst.

His deep bass has been described as sounding like "a distant rapid in a canyon stream." Using song, slides, stories and poetry, Stoltz leads a musical journey across wide-open spaces, describing his walk through 23,000 miles of North American wild lands.

Admission is $8; $7 for members of the Buffalo Friends of Folk Music.

5. The felines are frisky.

It's time for the Friskies/CFA Peace Bridge Aby Fanciers Cat Show, which takes place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Niagara Falls Convention & Civic Center.

On hand will be members of the Friskies Cat Team, which will show off their tricks and allow their trainer to explain how any feline can learn the basics of walking on a leash, rolling over and sitting.

The show will also feature pedigreed cats and the more common variety. Visitors can learn about care and nutrition, and purchase toys, scratching posts, jewelry, clothing and crafts.

Admission is $5 for adults; $3 for seniors; $2 for children under 12.

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