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BEST BETS

1. Hands-on thrills don't often come legally these days.

But Saturday's Wildlife Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Artpark offers a chance to mingle with the quadrupeds ... and more:

Dr. B Suited for Science presents "Wildlife in Your Backyard With the Garden Spider"

Liberty the Bald Eagle and other birds of prey from the Institute for Environmental Learning

Kiko the Chimp and fellow primates from Monkey Business

The annual event - moved to Artpark while the Niagara Power Project's Visitors' Center undergoes renovation - is held in observation of National Hunting and Fishing Day and is co-sponsored by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs.

2. Swish swish swish.

Please move back.

The person next to me has not bathed.

Bus tours. Would the wheels of the global economy turn without them?

Explore the City of Light through the eyes and thoughts of fictional and non-fictional characters during the Roam Buffalo bus tour. See the Queen City as it was at the turn of the century.

Reservations are required at 829-3543. Tours are scheduled for Saturday, and Oct. 14 and 28 between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Cost is $20. Meet across from the Buffalo Seminary, Bidwell Parkway at Potomac.

Sponsored by the Friends of the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Buffalo

3. Speaking of wheels - and hot air.

Every year the towns of Clarence and Newstead sponsor a "Harvest Happening" to benefit Meals on Wheels.

The happening, set from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Clarence Town Park on Main Street in Clarence, will feature hot air balloon rides and pony rides plus a giant flea market.

Wonder how big a giant flea is? Here's your chance.

Catch a roving clown.

Held rain or shine.

4. Laid-back leaves and flat flowers, two ways to mark autumn's arrival, all right. Three weekend family events in conjunction with the Buffalo Museum of Science will occupy Tifft Farm:

From 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, observe and appreciate nature as it prepares for shorter days and colder weather. Members $3; non-members $5. Member families $8; non-member families $10.

From 1 to 2 p.m. Sunday, enhance your knowledge of wildflowers and trees by starting a plant collection. Materials provided to make your own plant press to preserve flowers and leaves. Members $5; non-members $7.

From 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, join nature guides on a walk through the preserve to learn about goldenrod, asters and other uncultivated plants that blanket Western New York. Suggested donation $2.

No advance registration required for any of the above. Tifft Nature Preserve is located at 1200 Fuhrmann Blvd.

5. Curtain's Up for families.

The opening night celebration for "Swiss Family Robinson" presented by the Theatre of Youth begins at 6 p.m. Friday at Cybele's, 206 Allen St.

Tickets for the event (light dinner fare will be served) are $10 for adults and $5 for children. For those interested in attending both the event and the opening night performance, the cost is $25 for adults, and $20 for children.

TOY is located in the Allendale Theatre, 203 Allen. Call the box office at 884-4400, extension 304, for reservations and tickets.

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