New York Power Authority's Wildlife Festival 2003 is on Agenda for Project ChildSafe Nationwide Tour

Lori Presti


LEWISTON—Using a mobile classroom truck, the Project ChildSafe Firearm Safety Education program will bring its Safety Tour through the Empire State promoting firearm safety and distributing free gun locks during a visit to the Wildlife Festival this year. 

This popular festival, sponsored by the New York Power Authority, is co-sponsored by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs in recognition of National Hunting and Fishing Day.  The free family fun event will take place at the Power Authority’s Niagara Power Project’s Power Vista as well as the grounds surrounding the visitor’s center at 5777 Lewiston Rd., Lewiston, on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 27-28 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Project ChildSafe is a nationwide program whose purpose is to promote safe firearms handling and storage practices among all firearms owners through the distribution of key safety education messages and free gun locking devices.  It is an expansion of the Project HomeSafe program developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and is supported by a U.S. Department of Justice grant.  It is a component of Project Safe Neighborhoods, the nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime to create safer neighborhoods.  Project ChildSafe joins with governmental officials, community leaders and law enforcement members to distribute free storage locks for firearms in the home.  The allotment of locks to be distributed in New York State is 750,000 for September and October in various communities throughout the state.  For further information about the ChildSafe Program visit

“The distribution of gun locks as well as the safety education program, is a wonderful addition to this year’s festival”, said Greg Tessmann, President of the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs.  “This is an outstanding opportunity to educate people how to safely handle and store their firearms”. 

The Niagara River Anglers real-life fishing pond is returning to the line up of exhibitors this year.  Here kids will learn the techniques of fishing and the thrill of catching the “big one”.  Representatives from the Niagara Muskie Assoc. and Niagara County Sportfishing will also be on hand with information about fishing in the Niagara’s waterways.

Paul Schnell from the Institute for Environmental Learning will appear with “Liberty” the Bald Eagle.  Also presenting live birds of prey and mammal workshops will be representatives from Hawk Creek Wildlife Center.   Founded in 1987, Hawk Creek is the largest outreach educational facility in New York State, reaching 250,000 individuals annually.  Wild Spirit Rehabilitation and Release Center will demonstrate the flying ability of various types of hawks twice daily.

Monkey Business’s Primate Sanctuary will present information on new and old world monkeys.  This is an opportunity to learn about primates and their habitats from Carmen Presti of the Primate Sanctuary.  Western New Yorkers are familiar with the Sanctuary’s chimpanzees “Charlie and Kiko” who are best known for appearances on Animal Planet, Amazing Animals, Ripley’s Believe It or Not and FOX Sports.  Appearing at this year’s festival will be a Japanese Snow Macaque, a Lion Tail Macaque, both endangered primates, as well as a Capuchin and a Spider Monkey.

Making a return appearance again this year,  is the ever popular Jeff  Musial with Nickel City Reptiles and Exotics.  Jeff’s enthusiastic style will entertain audiences on a variety of reptiles that include some of nature’s most misunderstood marvels.  Wild Encounters founder Jarod Miller will introduce festival goers to a mix of wild creatures from every corner of the globe.  Jarod Miller is best known for appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show as well as Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures and PBS’s Zaboomafoo.

Opportunities to learn more about hawks, birds of the Niagara Region, turtles and other marine life will be presented by representatives from New York State Parks Interpretive Programs and the Aquarium of Niagara.

Deputy James Hildreth, Niagara County Sheriff’s Dept. and German shepherd “Ciro,” will discuss drug awareness and safety along with the  K-9 abilities of this talented law enforcement dog.  Other programs on our four-legged friends will be presented by Buffalo Greyhound Adoption Group and Canine Helpers for the Handicapped.

Back by popular demand is educator Dr. “B” Suited for Science.  On Saturday see him suited as a larger-than-life Giant Garden Spider as he tells his story about creating webs and gathering food.  Hands-on activities will allow children to learn more about spiders of all kinds.  On Sunday Dr. “B” returns as a Little Gray Bat.  Audiences can learn about where bats live as well as what they eat.  Also on Sunday will be an appearance by the Buffalo Zoomobile where visitors will have the opportunity to get up close to rare live animals and their habitats.

“Last year, 15,000 people visited the Wildlife Festival over the two-day period”, said Lori Presti, Event Coordinator.  “The success of this event was beyond anyone’s ‘wildest’ imagination and we are looking forward to the opportunity to expand festival-goers knowledge of the outdoors and the world of nature that surrounds us in the Niagara Region”.

Hands-on archery demonstrations will be provided by New York State Crossbow Hunters Assoc., and Middleport Rod and Gun Club.  Club members will also demonstrate how and where soldiers from the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War Era traveled and what they carried in their packs.

Safari Club International is donating blue bird house kits and will be on hand both days to assist children in building their own bird houses to attract New York State’s official bird.  On Saturday, create a wildflower sculpture with artist Kim Congi. 

Also on Saturday, register for the National Wild Turkey Federation sanctioned turkey calling competition for kids and adults sponsored by the Niagara Falls Thundering Toms between noon and 1:30 p.m.  Competition begins promptly at 2 p.m. in the lower level of the Power Vista.  Calling divisions include poults ages 2-9, junior ages 10-15, amateur, resident and open.  Other divisions include friction and owl.  Arnie Jonathan, Quaker Boy Pro Staff,   will teach a Basic Turkey Calling and Safety Techniques workshop at 11 a.m. 

Participate in a “Wild Scavenger Hunt” throughout the Power Vista with the 4-H Clubs of Niagara and design your very own edible art with Sandy Candy “The Tart Art You Can Eat”.  The Niagara Frontier Wildlife Habitat Council will exhibit live and dried plants as well as colorful bird cutouts to demonstrate the variety of species that are found in our region and Niagara Falls Historian and author Paul Gromosiak will participate in Sunday’s event to explain the natural history of the falls from the ice age to the present time.

Other organizations affiliated with Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs that will provide hunting, conservation and environmental information throughout the weekend are:  Iroquois Arms, LaSalle Sportsmen’s Club, Middleport Rod & Gun Club, Niagara County Conservation Council, Niagara County Gobblers Chapt. of N.W.T.F., Niagara County Trappers,  Niagara County Sportsmen’s Assoc., Niagara Falls Thundering Toms, Niagara Orleans Friends of the NRA, NYS Crossbow Assoc., NYS Hunter Education Program, Pheasant’s Forever, Pioneer Conservation Sportsmen of Niagara, S.C.O.P.E., and Wilson Conservation Club Auxiliary.

Art students from Niagara Falls High School will provide face painting between noon and 4 p.m. and Buffalo Bisons Baseball mascot Buster Bison will be on hand between noon and 1 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Explore and discover conservation and environmental activities along with numerous  “wild adventures” throughout the weekend to create wildlife memories to last a lifetime!

Refreshments will be provided by the Niagara Police Athletic League and the Lewiston-Porter Sports Boosters. 

For more information call 286-6661, 1-866-NYPA-FUN or visit