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Wildlife Festival offers fun for the family in Lewiston

LEWISTON – The New York Power Authority will host its 28th annual Wildlife Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and next Sunday.

The free family event will take place at the Power Vista, the Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant’s Visitors Center and its surrounding grounds at 5777 Lewiston Road.

“We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Power Vista,” said Lou Paonessa, community affairs director for the Power Authority’s Niagara Region. “We welcome visitors. This will bring us close to our 7 millionth visitor to the Power Vista.”

Paonessa added: “This festival has its roots in the National Hunting and Fishing Day, and we’ve expanded it over the years to two days, with the support of the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs. It’s a family-friendly event.”

The federation returns with its popular rifle range, joining more than 50 other exhibitors.

Liberty the bald eagle also will return to the festival, with Paul Schnell from the Institute for Environmental Learning. Schnell has participated in the event since its beginning and plans to bring along other raptors, such as a screech owl, peregrine falcon and red-tail hawk.

Visitors also should look for naturalist Carmen Presti of the Primate Sanctuary in Niagara Falls; Jeff Musial of Nickel City Reptiles and Exotics, with presentations about the world of reptiles, mammals and birds from around the world; Hawk Creek Wildlife Center; the Buffalo Zoomobile; and the Aquarium of Niagara. The Niagara River Anglers Association will host a fishing pond, while the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will discuss local hiking adventures.

The event also will feature the Niagara River Iroquois Dancers and chain saw artist Clair Talbot Jr.

In addition, Mike Randall, of Randall & Friends, will provide fast-paced shows, including magic, ventriloquism and audience participation, on both days of the festival.

Anglers age 15 and younger can participate in the Wildlife Festival Kids Fishing Derby. Fishing will be allowed at any of Niagara County’s public fishing waters, including the Power Authority’s reservoir and fishing pier. Scales will be open at the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. tent between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

First-, second- and third-place winners will be announced in three age categories – 7 and under, 8 to 12 and 13 to 15– at 3 p.m. Sunday. Prizes and an award for the biggest catch at the reservoir and fishing pier also will be given. Fishing is open at the Power Authority reservoir and pier between April 1 and Nov. 30.

Parking is free and will be available in the Power Vista parking lot as well as adjacent parking lots at Niagara University, and free shuttle service will be provided. In addition, the Niagara Scenic Trolley will provide free rides both days between the Gorge Discovery Center and the Niagara Power Vista, courtesy of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The event will be held rain or shine.

For more information, call 286-6661 or visit