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Critic's picks

The Peabody Essex Museum will screen “Ratatouille’’ as part of its “Edible Art’’ weekend. The Peabody Essex Museum will screen “Ratatouille’’ as part of its “Edible Art’’ weekend. (Disney Enterprises/Pixar Animation Studios)
By Michael Saunders
Globe Staff / September 12, 2010

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THE BIG E: EASTERN STATES EXPOSITION An old-fashioned county fair with live animals in several tents and live music on several stages, including performances by Owl City (Sept. 18) and Miranda Lambert (Oct. 1). Sept. 17-Oct. 3. $10-$15 for fair, $29-$49 for concerts. West Springfield. 413-737-2443, www.thebige.com

LEGO KIDSFEST More than just cool interlocking blocks, the ubiquitous construction toy gets the full rock-star treatment with interactive exhibits for all ages. Two daily sessions, Sept. 25-26. $5-$20. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, Boston. www.legokidsfest.com

MAYOR’S CUP PRO CYCLING RACE Kids can ride bikes and trikes down a 200-meter sprint course at 3 p.m., and pro racers start later in the day. A family concert will keep the little ones entertained between events. Sept. 26, 2 p.m. Free. City Hall Plaza. 617-635-3911, www.bostonbikes.org

FALL SKY VIEWING Apparently, all the really cool constellations come out during the fall and winter, when first-teamers like Taurus, Andromeda, and Orion begin to rule the sky. Oct. 7, 7 p.m. Free. Phillips Auditorium, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge. 617-495-7461, www.cfa.harvard.edu

ZING ZANG ZOOM This edition of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus debuted last year with more Las Vegas-style flash than past shows, mixing magic and illusion with traditional clowns and aerialists. Oct. 7-11, DCU Center, Worcester. Oct. 13-17, TD Garden, Boston. www.ticketmaster.com. Meanwhile, if you can’t wait for the all-new “Illuscination’’ show to hit Boston, just make the trek to Springfield. Oct. 14-17, MassMutual Center, Springfield. www.ticketmaster.com

EDIBLE ART A themed weekend based on the role of food in art, featuring live music, presentations on edible art, a didgeridoo performance, the film “Ratatouille,’’ and a sure-fire hit: make-your-own shakers with gourds. Oct. 9-11, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $11-$15. Free ages 16 and under. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem. 978-745-9500, www.pem.org

COLUMBUS DAY AT THE MFA A free, family-centric open house with live music performances, poetry readings, art-making activities, and gallery talks and tours. Oct. 11, 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Free. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 617-267-9300, www.mfa.org

FOSSIL DAY Celebrate National Fossil Day with hands-on activities featuring real specimens and ancient teeth, claws, and fossilized footprints. It’s part of Earth Science Week, sponsored by the American Geological Institute and US National Park Service. Oct. 13, 1-5 p.m. $6-$9. Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge. 617-495-3045, www.hmnh.harvard.edu

HARVEST FESTIVAL AND FUND-RAISER Verrill Farm offers pony rides and face painting for the littlest ones, hay rides for everyone, and live music from Back Eddy Bluegrass. Picnic fare will be available, with proceeds to benefit the Pediatric Care Unit at Emerson Hospital in Concord. Oct. 16, noon-4 p.m. Verrill Farm, Concord. 978-369-4494, www.verrillfarm.com

ILLUSIONS AND DELUSIONS! An evening event for families with children ages 9 and older. There’s a drop-in art event with animation demonstrations, professional instruction on making spooky sounds for radio and film, and a creepy classic silent movie — “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’’ — with a score performed by the Devil Music Ensemble. Oct. 22, 6:30-9:30 p.m. $10. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem. 978-745-9500, www.pem.org

ANNIE The classic Depression-era musical is reworked to reflect the current economic climate. Oct. 22-Nov. 21. $25-$30. Wheelock Family Theater, Boston. 617-879-2300, www.wheelock.edu/wft

GREAT PUMPKIN FEST Check out hundreds of carved pumpkins, take kids on a hayride or train ride, watch a digital planetarium show, play games, and see the awwww-inducing small animals. Oct. 23, noon-9 p.m. $15; $10 for members; children under 2 free. Ecotarium, Worcester. 508-929-2700, www.ecotarium.org

THE WIGGLES Check your grown-up brain at the door and let the littlest ones groove to the Australian troupe of musicians and costumed characters. Nov. 5, 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. $13.75-$73.75. Orpheum Theatre, Boston. 617-482-0106, www.ticketmaster.com

RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR Unabashedly old-fashioned, the Radio City Rockettes return to Boston in a show designed for all-ages appeal. Dec. 3-Dec. 29. $25-$130. Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre, Boston. 617-482-9393, www.citicenter.org

THE VELVETEEN RABBIT Boston Children’s Theater presents a mix of live actors and puppets in a unique retelling of the popular children’s story. Nov. 27-Dec. 19. Tickets available with subscription to three or four plays. $40-$55. YMCA Huntington Ave, Boston. 617-424-6634, www.bostonchildrenstheatre.org

MICHAEL SAUNDERS

Clarification: In Sunday's Fall Arts Preview, a critic's pick highlighting Wheelock Family Theatre's production of "Annie" provided the main phone number for Wheelock College, but should have provided the theater’s box-office number: 617-879-2300

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