The New York Power Authority's popular Wildife Festival is spreading its wings with a newly expanded program Saturday at Artpark.
The free program, slated to run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will feature all of the old favorites, from eagles to reptiles, but a host of hands-on art projects and more wildlife rehabilitators have been added this year, according to Lori Presti, festival coordinator for the Power Authority.
She said about 16,000 attended last year's festival, held in Artpark for the first time while the Power Authority's Visitors Center undergoes renovation.
"We are bringing the arts, music, nature and the great outdoors together, and having the event at Artpark allows us to do that," Ms. Presti noted. "People are always looking for something affordable for the whole family, and this is all free."
The event will largely be held on the "Art-El," the wooden frame structure leading to the upper level, and will extend down to the lower level overlooking the Niagara River, she said.
The event is in observation of National Hunting and Fishing Day and is co-sponsored by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs.
Workshops on turkey and game-calling will be featured, as well as the art of spincasting and archery. Representatives of Hawk Creek Wildlife Center, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (with an eagle), Reptile Adoption and Rehabilitation Education Inc., Predator Park and the Aquarium of Niagara Falls will be on hand.
Canine Helpers for the Handicapped will offer information on assistance dogs and Mountain Road Kennels will provide Alaskan sled dog programs. The Buffalo Greyhound Adoption Group will also be present.
New this year, representatives of the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory in Ontario will help children make butterfly hats, the Niagara County 4-H Clubs will offer fossil-making, New York State Parks will help children create stone "frogs" and the Artpark staff will offer wild mask painting. Sandy Candy will help create edible art in a program titled "The Tart Art You Can Eat," and Castellani Art Museum members will help design place mats for pets.
Members of the State University at Buffalo's archaeological survey team will teach hunting and fishing practices of prehistoric Native Americans on the Niagara Frontier.
A host of local mascots, from Buster Bison to the Niagara University Purple Eagle, will be on hand to entertain the youngsters.
Concession stands will sell refreshments.
Festival-goers are urged to use the Portage Road entrance to Parking Lot B at Artpark, but the Viewmobile will also offer rides from the other lots to the event.
For more information, call 286-6661 or visit www.nypa.gov.