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BEST BETS

1. Give yourself a hand!

Here are two ways for kids and young adults to beat the winter blahs and learn new hand skills at the same time.

Learn the basics of sign language at 2 p.m. Saturday at the City of Tonawanda Public Library, 333 Main St. You should register first by calling 693-5043; the classes are open to grades 5-12.

If flowers are your passion, learn to string them into Hawaiian leis, also Saturday, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the North Branch Library, 735 Maryvale Drive, Cheektowaga. Register with the librarian at 634-4424; the program is open to kids ages 5-11.

Both are free.

2. Flashing blades, whirling bodies ... there's nothing like seeing a professional ice-skating show to take your breath away, especially with such a big array of stars!

Scott Hamilton's "Target Stars on Ice" tour comes to the HSBC Arena at 7:30 p.m. Saturday for what's described as his farewell tour, having organized it every year since 1986.

Expected to perform are Hamilton, Olympic skaters Tara Lipinski and Kristi Yamaguchi and many other international award-winners.

Tickets, at $32, $42 and $55, are available at the HSBC Arena box office and all Tickets.com outlets, including participating Tops Friendly Markets and some Sam the Record Man stores. Or order them online at www.hsbcarena.com or www.tickets.com

3. Go back in time - waaaay back!

Here's another way to cure the cabin-fever blues. Tour historic Old Fort Niagara this Saturday and catch a lecture at 2 p.m.. Robert Emerson, the fort's executive director, and Jerome Brubaker, its curator, will talk about the history and culture of the "French Castle" during the mid-1700s - including an inventory of what the castle held.

Ticket prices for admission to the fort are: kids 6-12, $4.50; adults 12 and up, $6.75; and adults 65 and up, $5.50. Kids under 6 get in free. For details and directions, call 745-7611 or go to the Web site at www.oldfortniagara.com

4. It's never too soon to prepare for March 17!

One of Buffalo's best-loved holidays, St. Patrick's Day, is just three weeks away. Prepare yourself by taking in "An Afternoon of Irish Music and Dance" at the Lancaster Opera House, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Enjoy Irish Step Dancing and music as seen in the Broadway shows, without the big price!

All tickets are just $11, and group rates are available. For more information and tickets, call 683-1776 Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

5. Go, dog. Go!

If you didn't get enough of dogs during the recent Westminster Kennel Club competition (pictured here), check out the Olean, Wyoming Valley and Kennel Club of Niagara Falls' "Rainbow Classic Dog Show and Obedience Trials" at the Niagara Falls Convention and Civic Center, 305 Fourth St., Niagara Falls.

Starting today and running through Sunday, more than 2,000 dogs representing over 142 breeds and varieties will be on hand (and, yes, on leash) - plus, a free obedience seminar will be given at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the center's Greek Theater.

Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Tickets are: adults, $5; children 6-12, $2; children under 6, free.

Bow-WOW! For extra fun, attend on Saturday and, after the Best in Show competition, watch as two dog trainers who met and fell in love at a dog show exchange vows at their wedding!

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