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Wildlife Fest features exotic animals, duck-calling contest, fishing derby

LEWISTON— Thrilling close encounters with an alligator, monkey, hawk and tarantula are to be expected at the 31st Annual Wildlife Festival planned for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and next Sunday at the New York Power Authority’s Niagara Power Vista in Lewiston.

This free, family-friendly festival also boasts a state-sanctioned duck-calling competition, as well as guided tours of nearby Niagara University’s nature trail, to give visitors a taste of the area’s history and geology.

The festival is held rain or shine and is co-sponsored by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs. Visitors may choose from more than 60 demonstrations and activities that promote conservation awareness, including wildlife shows and appearances by the Primate Sanctuary with Carmen Presti; Nickel City Reptiles with Jeff Musial; Hawk Creek Wildlife Center; Skyhunters Birds of Prey; AWARE animal rehabilitation center; the Buffalo Zoomobile; Erie County SPCA Wildlife Department; and area police K-9 demonstrations.

Among the many activities offered will be a shooting trailer, fishing pond, crossbow shooting (age appropriate), archery, crafts, face painting, a rock climbing wall, chainsaw art demonstrations, and fishing demonstrations.

For the second year, the festival will bring back the New York State-sanctioned duck-calling contest sponsored by Ducks Unlimited. There is no fee to enter the Saturday competition. The winner will go on to compete in the 81st annual World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest in Stuttgart, Ark. in November.

Wild-game tasting will also be back with venison, bison and bear sampling stations and a selection of fish near the center tent operated by the Niagara River Fishing Station of Grand Island.

The Niagara River Anglers will operate the Wildlife Festival’s Kids Fishing Derby. Children up to 15 can enter the free contest and fish at any Niagara County public fishing location, including the Power Vista’s Fishing Pier and Reservoir. Contestants must be present to win.

Attendees can also try out the all-new, interactive adventure exhibits at the newly renovated Power Vista. A 4-D virtual rollercoaster allows visitors to hear, see and feel the experience of a single drop of rain as it becomes a unit of energy. Visitors may also “operate” a power plant and “run” the state’s transmission network, while learning about how the massive Robert Moses Dam helps provide power.

Eastern Mountain Sports joins the festival this year with interactive activities and demonstrations.

Conservation exhibitors will include divisions of the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC); New York State Parks Interpretive Center; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and clubs including sportsmen, trappers, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Visitors can ride the free Discover Niagara Shuttle to and from the Lewiston Harvest Festival, also happening in the Village of Lewiston both days, as well as the Gorge Discovery Center and other area attractions. For more information on the shuttle and its route, visit www.discoverniagara.org.

The Power Vista is located at 5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston. Parking is free in the Power Vista parking lot and in adjacent lots at Niagara University.

For more information on the festival or to register for a Wildlife Festival contest, call 286-6661 or 1 (866) NYPA-FUN, or email npvista@nypa.gov. Visit www.nypa.gov for a complete schedule of activities.

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