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Take Me With You, Batgirl!

Geek-out at Royalfest

by and

The latest comic-book/fanboy-culture convention to hit St. Louis is called Royalfest, and it packs a punch. (Fanboy, for those who don't know, refers to that almost-always-male member of the species that lives for comics, sci-fi, horror, toys and attendant juvenilia. If you're a woman who's offended by this sexist terminology, head directly to the Gateway Convention Center, Hwy. 157 just north of I-55/70 in Collinsville, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, September 20, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, September 21, to defy the stereotype and make a young man's dreams come true.) The autographing celebrity guests include John de Lancie (the omnipotent Q from "Star Trek: The Next Generation"); Yvonne Craig (Batgirl from the "Batman" TV show of the '60s); and comics creators Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin), Kurt Busiek (Astro City), Norm Breyfogle (Batman), Mike Grell (Green Arrow) and John Ostrander (Star Wars: Clone Wars). Expect sales of comics, toys and collectibles; prizes; an art show; and a costume contest, too ($7-$12, free for ages 10 and younger, 314-428-2699, -- Byron Kerman

Bison Love
Stampede of fun

SAT 9/20

If your kids like animals and petting zoos and that sort of thing, they'll love petting a huge, hairy, one-ton bison with a head as big as a refrigerator. That's on the agenda at Bisonfest 2003, a college-scholarship benefit for students in Washington County, at SayersBrook Bison Ranch in Potosi (10 a.m.-10 p.m., $5-$10, 573-438-4449). Visitors will enjoy bison-herd tours, pony and boat rides, clay shooting, a silent auction, craft sales, artisan demonstrations, 4x4 off-roading, shopping at a country store, a fireworks display and a bison dinner. Guess what, kids? That bison you petted today is next to your potatoes now! -- Byron Kerman

Li'l Party Animals

"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams," declaims Willy Wonka to Veruca Salt. She was complaining about something or other, oblivious to the magic all around her in Wonka's chocolate factory. Why couldn't she just listen to the Oompah-Loompahs singing and smile and be happy? "Oom-pah, loom-pah, doo-piddy doo..." -- that should've been enough. Your kids won't whine if you take them to Ottertoberfest at the St. Louis Zoo (near River Camp Café, September 20-21 and 27-28; plus October 4-5 and 11-12). Not only will they have live oompah music there (but not performed by orange dwarves, sorry), they'll have lots of free, hands-on children's activities, which reduces the likelihood of bratty, Veruca Salt-style whining. But if the kids moan anyway, there's a biergarten for adults, which should ease the pain (too bad that's not free, too). The fun begins at noon and ends at 3 p.m. Call 314-781-0900 for more information. -- Guy Gray

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