SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. Nov. 20-23: Barrel racing by sharpshooters on horseback is what to expect at the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association World Championships and World Point Finals. Cowboys and cowgirls race their horses around barrels while shooting at balloon targets. Re-creating the look of the ''Old West," the sharpshooters outfit themselves in 19th-century western wear and fire .45-caliber, single-action revolvers. The cartridges are blanks, so there's no live ammunition. More than 300 riders are expected to compete in the men's, women's, and junior's divisions where speed and accuracy determine winners. The women's defending champion is a young 'un: Chantall Kort, age 16, of Scottsdale. WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road. 480-471-0485; 480-312-6802. www.cowboymountedshooting.com.
Historical society reopens
BALTIMORE Nov. 16: State history takes a more visible course with the reopening of the expanded Maryland Historical Society's headquarters. The complex has more than doubled in size and now covers a city block. Founded in 1844, the society has more than 6 million items in its collections of furniture, visual arts, books, documents, historic papers, and genealogy records. With the changes, the society wants to share Maryland's pivotal role in American history with the public in more inviting settings. The contemporary glass entrance heralds the fresh opportunities in the new Museum and Carey Center for Maryland Life and the renovated H. Furlong Baldwin Library. ''Looking for Liberty: An Overview of Maryland History," which represents 350 years of events, and ''Maryland Through the Artist's Eye" make their debut as permanent exhibits. The recently restored original manuscript for ''The Star Spangled Banner" -- complete with Francis Scott Key's own hand-written changes -- is the centerpiece for ''Liberty." The Nov. 16 free public celebration features family activities, guided tours, and actors portraying figures from the past.201 W. Monument St. 410-685-3750. www.mdhs.org.
Holiday train show
NEW YORK CITY Nov. 21-Jan. 11: The New York Botanical Garden's popular ''Holiday Train Show" pulls into the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory for the 12th annual journey. The large-gauge model train and trolleys travel along 1,000 feet of track, passing through replicas of city and Hudson Valley landscapes dotted with detailed landmarks handcrafted by Paul Busse of Applied Imagination of Kentucky. In addition to bringing back more than 20 finely detailed buildings from past shows, such as the Empire State Building and the Apollo Theater, Busse and his team plan to add new sites, among them the RCA Building complete with ice rink, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and City Hall.Bronx River Parkway and Fordham Road, the Bronx. 718-817-8700. www.nybg.org.
Hall of Mammals
WASHINGTON Nov. 15: The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History celebrates the premiere of the Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of Mammals. The new gallery is in the original mammal hall that opened with the museum in 1910. The old hall was closed five years ago for the renovation and complete upgrading of the exhibits covering 225 million years of mammal evolution and adaptation. Behring Hall features more than 270 mammals of all sizes from land and sea in lifelike poses. Geared to families, Discovery Zones with hands-on elements are scattered throughout the 25,000-square-foot space. Opening day festivities will feature discovery carts with particular themes, among them animal fur matchup charts, teeth from Asian and African elephants, and animal skulls.10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-357-2700; 202-357-1729 (TTY). www.smithsonian.org.
MENDOCINO, CALIF. Nov. 12-23: After the grape harvest ends in October, the Mendocino Wine & Mushroom Festival organizers say they do a rain dance. The more rain, the more wild mushrooms pop up around the coast and forests of Mendocino County. When Mother Nature cooperates, the Northern California county is a forager's paradise for all types of edible wild mushrooms, among them chanterelles, black trumpets, candy caps, and matsutake. Among the many mushroom-related activities are daily guided walks, forest forays, cooking classes and demonstrations, breakfasts with fungi, brandy and mushroom tasting, winemaker dinners, and symposiums on Nov. 15 and 22. The speaker for the Nov. 22 symposium is David Arora, author of ''Mushrooms Demystified." This year the festival added weekend country fairs with local artists, craftspeople, and food purveyors.Various locations. 866-466-3636. www.gomendo.com.
DURANGO, COLO. Nov. 26-May 7 : Even in winter, it's all aboard the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in southwestern Colorado. The Cascade Canyon Winter Train leaves the Durango station at high noon for the 52-mile round-trip excursion into the San Juan National Forest where mountains top 10,000 feet. Chugging along at 18 miles per hour on tracks laid in 1881, the steam-powered train uses three tons of coal for the trips high above the Animas River. At the canyon turnaround, passengers disembark for refreshments and a roaring fire. The locomotive is equipped with a snowplow for keeping the track clear. The year-round railroad runs 90-mile round-trip journeys to Silverton from May through October.479 Main Ave. 888-872-4607. www.durangotrain.com.
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