Former Buffalo Sabre Rob Ray to Appear at Wildlife Festival

Lori Presti

September 9, 2004


LEWISTON – The New York Power Authority’s Niagara Power Project will host the 2004 Wildlife Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25-26, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

This free family event will take place at the Power Vista and its surrounding grounds at 5777 Lewiston Rd.

Former Buffalo Sabre Rob Ray, an inspiration on and off the ice to Western New Yorkers, will be on hand Sunday afternoon to draw a name from a group of junior division anglers participating in the Greater Niagara 2004 Fish Odyssey scheduled Sept. 18 - Sept. 26.  The lucky winner will go on a personalized fishing outing with Ray.  (To register, visit or call (716) 439-7303.) 

The Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs co-sponsors the Wildlife Festival, which is held annually in recognition of National Hunting and Fishing Day.  There’s a lot to discover at this year’s event with more than 60 environmental, outdoor educators and wildlife rehabilitators from across Western New York and Canada participating.

“What really draws the crowds to the two-day festival are the unique and exciting presentations by experienced and skilled environmental and educational exhibitors,” said Lori Presti, who coordinates the event for the Power Authority.

Back by popular demand for both days, is the ever popular Jeff Musial and his “Nickel City Reptiles.”  Jeff’s eye-opening presentations, featuring his slithery and slimy reptile friends, will entertain audiences with a unique blend of comedy and education. 

Paul Schnell from the Institute for Environmental Learning, who has participated in the Wildlife Festival since it began in 1985, will captivate both children and adults with presentations featuring “Liberty the Bald Eagle” and other raptors such as a screech owl, peregrine, falcon and red tail hawk.  Also presenting live birds of prey and mammal workshops will be representatives from Hawk Creek Wildlife Center and Buffalo Audubon Society.

For those preferring monkey business, nationally known Carmen Presti of the Primate Sanctuary will introduce a variety of new and old world monkeys.  The sanctuary’s chimpanzees, “Charlie” and “Kiko,” are best recognized for appearances on various television programs including “Animal Planet,” “Amazing Animals,” “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” and on FOX Sports.  Presentations this year will feature a Japanese Snow Macaque, a Lion Tail Macaque - both endangered primates - a capuchin and spider monkey, a lemur and an eight-ounce tuff ear marmoset.

The popular Niagara River Anglers real-life fishing pond is returning to the festival again this year.  Kids will learn fishing techniques from the club’s members and, for some kids, the thrill that comes with catching their very first fish.

“The excitement of this annual festival is clearly catching,” said Paul Jackson, Niagara River Anglers vice president.  “This is an ideal venue to promote sport fishing and encourage young people to put down their video games and pick up fishing poles.” 

Also on hand distributing information about fishing in area waterways will be representatives from the Niagara Musky Association, Niagara County Sportfishing, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 

Other participating organizations include the New York State Parks Interpretive Programs, the Aquarium of Niagara and the Niagara Frontier Wildlife Habitat Council, which will teach visitors about the variety of plants and birds that inhabit the area.  And Niagara Falls Historian Paul Gromosiak will take visitors on a journey back in time as he explains the history of the falls.

Buffalo State College Professor Don Birdd, a.k.a. “Dr. ‘B’ Suited for Science,” will suit up as a tiger beetle and an armadillo.  The combination of large colorful costumes coupled with dynamic educational science-based presentations promises a wealth of hands-on learning.

On Saturday, Sept. 25, people of all ages are invited to participate in a turkey-calling competition sponsored by the Niagara Falls Thundering Toms.  Arnie Jonathan of Quaker Boy will teach basic turkey calling and safety techniques at 11 a.m.  Calling registration is between noon and 1:30 p.m. followed by the competition at 2:00 p.m. 

Hands-on archery demonstrations will be provided by the New York State Crossbow Hunters Association and Middleport Rod and Gun Club.  Club members will  also demonstrate how soldiers in the French and Indian War and American Revolutionary War traveled and carried gear.

Visitors should also enjoy a dog-gone good time with a variety of canine from Buffalo Greyhound Adoption, Fort Hyde Kennels and Canine Helpers for the Handicapped.  Deputy James Hildreth, Niagara County Sheriff’s Department, will also showcase the law enforcement talent of “Ciro,” a highly trained German shepherd.  In addition, the Canadian American Sledders and its huskies will demonstrate dog-sled race skills. 

On Sunday, Sept. 26, the Buffalo Zoomobile will present six unique live animals for visitors to get up close and personal.  And Safari Club International will donate bird house kits for children to take home.

Hands-on art activities will be a major theme of the festival, including wildflower sculpture workshops with Kim Congi, face painting by Niagara Falls High School art students, “edible art”  with Sandy Candy, and duck woodcarving with Ed Kelly and Castellani Art Museum.

Hockey and basketball players from Niagara University along with team mascot “Monte the Eagle” will make an appearance, as well as representatives of the university’s Education Department who’ll provide animal storytelling.

Other wildlife festival programs and exhibits will be provided by such organizations as the New York State Hunter Education, Niagara County Conservation Council, Niagara County Trappers, Niagara County Sportsmen, Pheasants Forever and Pioneer Conservation and SCOPE.

Visitors will also get a chance to learn about safe operating practices of all-terrain vehicles, as well as gun safety with Wisor’s Polaris and Project Child Safe.  

Niagara Clown Alley entertainers will perform magic and high energy programs highlighting the importance of recycling and Glenn Colton will perform two concerts each day of the festival.

There will also be culinary experiences with Niagara PAL and Lew-Port Sports Boosters selling a variety of dishes and Boy Scout Troop 855 providing homemade chowder. 

The Wildlife Festival is held rain or shine and admission and parking is free.

For more information call (716)286-6661, 1-866-NYPA-FUN or visit for a complete schedule of activities.