Brian’s picks – February 8

1) If you seek a bit of warmth in a departure from winter, how about the undeniable warmth of critters? The Winter Festival of Exotic Animals unfolds from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays at Zoo’Opolis Exotic Petting Zoo, 12696 W. County Road 50S in Columbus. Visitors can see more than 35 species, including foxes, macaws, miniature ponies and prairie dogs. Choose from two sessions: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 2:30 to 5 p.m. Information or reservations: 812-764-4980;

2) The annual Brown Music Scholarship Competition often serves as an eye-opening window to the future world of entertainment stages such as Broadway and the like. Former opera performers such as Julianna Jerome-Drerup, Alison Bates and other current, nationally touring performers from singer Kate Hamilton to sax player Cam Collins got their first big break at the event that sometimes has featured top faculty from such nationally prestigious music programs as Indiana University. The competition, which is free, begins with instrumental students at 8 a.m. Saturday at First Christian Church, 531 Fifth St. in Columbus.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.