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VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND | BEST BETS

July 11, 1996

SATURDAY: ArtWalk

The Summer ArtWalk and its melange of accompanying activities will return to downtown Ventura from 6 to 10 p.m.

Strap on those tennies for a self-guided tour through the area's galleries, museums and other establishments hosting special exhibitions. The popular event also offers art demonstrations, poetry readings, live music and more. The Plexus Dance Theatre will present its "10th Anniversary Celebration" at Ventura City Hall's 3rd Floor Gallery. Show times are 7 and 8 p.m.

Another highlight: The benefit "Give 'Em Something to CHALC About," a street-painting festival presented by Arts Alive!, will run from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. along California Street, between Main Street and City Hall. The event is free. Guide maps will be available at information tables at City Hall and the corner of California and Santa Clara streets. Call 658-4760.

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WEEKEND: Seems Like Old Times

This weekend the usual throngs of campers and anglers at Lake Casitas will make way for Queen Elizabeth and her merry band of celebrants for the annual Ojai Renaissance Festival.

Visitors to the event, held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, will be entertained by horse-mounted knights, strolling minstrels and medieval games. There are also puppet shows, storytellers, pirates, a children's costume contest, food, and arts and crafts.

Admission is $6, $4 for seniors and children 11 and under, children 3 and under free. Parking is $2. Campsites are available, but call ahead to reserve a spot. Call 496-6036.

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SUNDAY: Way Out West

Before the housing tracts came, Simi Valley was once a location for countless westerns. The city once again will be the scene of a series of oaters, if just a film series at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. The big screen will come alive with a series of classic westerns for the next six Sundays at 2 p.m.

On Sunday, it's "Santa Fe Trail" (1940), in which Reagan plays George Armstrong Custer, with Errol Flynn as Jeb Stuart and Raymond Massey as John Brown. As history, don't take notes, but as Hollywood storytelling, good fun.

On July 21, it's a pair of silent classics, "Tumbleweeds" (1925), starring William S. Hart, and a hilarious Buster Keaton short, "The Paleface" (1921).

On July 28, the venue will screen John Wayne's first big hit, "Stagecoach" (1939). Bob Hope stars in "Son of Paleface" (1952) on Aug. 4. Pint-sized tough guy Alan Ladd handles the bad guys in "Shane" (1953) on Aug. 11. The final film Aug. 18 is one of Laurel and Hardy's best, "Way Out West" (1937).

All screenings are free. So is the popcorn. The venue is at 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley. Call 522-2977.

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UP THE COAST

* A poodle parade. A Napoleon look-alike contest. A huge faux Eiffel Tower. It's all part of the Bastille Day weekend fete at Santa Barbara's Oak Park. The annual French Festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. An array of continuous live entertainment will run on two stages, plus there will be traditional foods, arts and crafts, a classic car show, storytellers, a flower market and much more. The park is at Alamar Avenue and Junipero Street. Call 569-PARIS.

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