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9 free things to do with the kids

Now that the weather is getting nicer, having fun with the kids is getting much easier – and much cheaper. Here come the picnics, the sunset strolls by the river and the games of tag at the playground. All the free events are starting to kick in, too.

Help a Horse Day. The ASPCA and Phoenix Rising Equine Rescue will hold a free, educational open house complete with a horse shoeing demonstration, a rescue horse obstacle course class and pony rides. You can also feed the horses, learn how to groom them and meet bunnies that are up for adoption.

It takes place Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at Spruce Meadow Farm, 10333 Keller Road in Clarence. Call 741-2346.

Rally to Rescue. This free pet expo will raise money for several local animal rescue organizations. There will be adoptable pets, a petting zoo and pony rides as well as lots of merchandise and food for sale.

It’s from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 14 at the VFW Weber Post No. 898, 2909 South Park Ave. in Lackawanna. There’s free parking and a golf cart shuttle. You can call Piece of Heaven Kitten Rescue, 648-0315.

Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Now through Saturday, admission is free at the museum, 1285 Elmwood Ave. Call 882-8700.

Niagara Hobby and Craft Mart. With its elaborate doll houses and model trains, this is one of my favorite places to visit any time of the year. But it also has a full schedule of free events for kids age 3 to 16 on its website,

There’s an Estes model rocket children’s workshop from 1 to 2:30 p.m. May 21 and a Thomas and Friends Play Day from 1 to 2:30 p.m. June 11. Reservations are often required, 681-1666. It’s at 3366 Union Road in Cheektowaga.

Getzville Volunteer Fire Co. The firehouse, at 630 Dodge Road in Getzville, will hold a free open house from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

There will be free refreshments and activities for kids, and opportunities to try on real firefighter gear. For more information, email

Blasdell Fire Co. is having a free open house, too. It takes place from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at 121 Miriam Ave. in Blasdell. Call 825-0456.

Apple Blossom Festival. A country fair at the farm village museum will include music, dancers, crafters, a Civil War encampment and a period barbershop, schoolhouse, blacksmith, printer and country store.

Admission and parking are free and there’s free apple dessert on the boardwalk. It takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 15 at the Newfane Historical Society, 2685 West Creek Road, Newfane. For more information, call 778-7197.

Spring Into Nature. The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge will celebrate the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty with a bald eagle watch and visits from birds of prey. There will also be nature exhibits, crafts and games, and you can build bat and birdhouses.

It takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 30 at 1101 Casey Road in Basom, which is in Genesee County. For more information, call 585-948-544, Ext. 7036.

Healthy Kids Day at the Y. The free open house will have an obstacle course for aspiring ninjas, an open swim, arts and crafts and healthy snacks. If you join the Y that day, they will waive the $75 sign-up fee.

It takes place from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 30 at the YMCA, 19 East Ave., Lockport. Call 434-8887.


Having fun with the kids is getting much easier – and much cheaper.