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Critic's picks

“A Day in Pompeii’’ at the Museum of Science includes casts of victims. “A Day in Pompeii’’ at the Museum of Science includes casts of victims. (William Starling)
By Joel Brown
Globe Correspondent / September 11, 2011

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DAVIS MEGA MAZE This year’s corn maze offers a pirate adventure, “Blackbeard’s Revenge,’’ not to mention “mobile mazing’’ for GPS, laptop, or iPad. Plenty of games, puzzles, and activities. Davis Farmland, Sterling. Open Saturdays and Sundays until around Nov. 13. $13.95-$16.95, under 5 free. Under 12 must be accompanied. 978-422-8888,

IN THE BAG An exhibit on the movement to ban plastic bags highlights grass-roots recycling efforts, contemporary artworks, and a selection of reusable bags made from billboards, juice boxes, and rice bags. Sept. 15-Nov. 27. Free with $12 museum admission. Boston Children’s Museum. 617-426-6500,

LIFE IS GOOD FESTIVAL The music fest organized by the apparel company hopes concertgoers will raise $1 million for children. The kids stage features Keller Williams and Ben Rudnick, and there are games and activities for the family all weekend long. Sept. 24-25. Tickets start at $20 for kids and go up to $120 for an adult two-day pass. Under 2 free. Prowse Farm, Canton. 877-435-9849,

EYE WONDER FAMILY PROGRAM Inspired by the ongoing “Temporary Structures: Performing Architecture in Contemporary Art’’ exhibit, choreographer Kate Bresse will get families moving at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. Best for families with children ages 6-12. Sept. 25, 1-3 p.m. Free with museum admission, which is $8-$12, children under 6 free. Lincoln. 781-259-8355,

TOPSFIELD FAIR The classic country fair featuring livestock, 4-H contests, country and pop music, a carnival midway, and the truly gi-normous giant pumpkin contest. Sept. 30-Oct. 10. $10-$12, children under 8 free. Topsfield Fairgrounds, Topsfield. 978-887-5000,

UNDER THE SEA Kidspace at MassMoCA will be turned into an “artistic aquarium’’ with works addressing issues of maritime habitats and conservation. Artmaking activities on weekends. North Adams. Oct. 1-May 30. Free. 413-662-2111,

SURREAL & ABSURD A family weekend connected to the “Man Ray | Lee Miller, Partners in Surrealism’’ exhibit includes wacky hat workshops, randomized poetry, movies, storytimes, and performances by the creatures of Big Nazo. Oct. 1-2. Age 16 and under free, adults free with $15 museum admission. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem. 978-745-9500,

A DAY IN POMPEII A 13,000-square-foot exhibit with hundreds of artifacts - including body casts of victims - looks at life before the volcano Vesuvius erupted and buried this lively city of Imperial Rome. Oct. 2-Feb. 12. $24-$27. Museum of Science. 617-723-2500,

YO GABBA-GABBA! LIVE! “It’s Time to Dance’’ for Nick Jr. favorites DJ Lance Rock, Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee and Plex, with guest Biz Markie. Oct. 2, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. $23-$43. Agganis Arena. 800-745-3000,

THE ARCTIC NEXT DOOR: MOUNT WASHINGTON The Ecotarium is turning its upper level into a sort of virtual White Mountain, with a bouldering wall and a booth that simulates hurricane-force winds. Currently open in previews, with a grand opening expected in October. EcoTarium, Worcester. Free with museum admission, which is $8-$12. Under 2 free. 508-929-2700,

BARNUM 200 Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey mark the 200th anniversary of P.T. Barnum’s birth with a circus featuring performers from all over the world, including high-wire artists, contortionists, and a physics-defying motorcycle troupe. Interactive pre-show on the floor. DCU Center, Worcester, Oct. 6-10; TD Garden, Oct. 12-16. $15-$140. 800-745-3000,

HANOVER THEATRE FAMILY SHOWS The Worcester performing arts venue offers a handful of family hits this fall, including the return of “Max & Ruby: Bunny Party,’’ drawn from the popular children’s books by Rosemary Wells, on Oct. 19; Cathy Rigby in “Peter Pan’’ Oct. 28-30; and “Disney’s Phineas and Ferb LIVE!’’ on Nov. 18. $17-$68. 877-571-7469,

THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH Wheelock Family Theatre presents the musical adaptation of Norton Juster’s classic children’s book, published 50 years ago. Milo overcomes his boredom when he passes through the mysterious tollbooth to adventure in the Kingdom of Wisdom. Oct. 21-Nov. 20. $20-$30, $15 on Friday nights if you come in your pajamas. 617-879-2300,

BOSTON YOUTH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRAS A family concert of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf’’ performed by young musicians from around the city, conducted by Federico Cortese. Pre-concert activities include a hands-on instrument playground. Nov. 12, noon. Symphony Hall. Adults $20, under 18 free. 888-266-1200,

ARABIAN NIGHTS The first collaboration between the Nora Theatre Company and Underground Railway Theater is a new take on “One Thousand and One Nights’’ with live actors and puppets. Nov. 17-Dec. 31. $15-$45. Central Square Theater, Cambridge. 866-811-4111,