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August 25, 2005|By Erica Kritt

Spy talk

One of the most powerful monarchs to sit on the throne of England, Queen Elizabeth I was always under the threat of attack, invasion or assassination by the Spanish, French or even her own cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. She kept a tight staff to protect her. Her primary secretary, Sir Francis Walsingham, was in charge of her protection.

Today, the International Spy Museum in Washington presents a discussion by historian Stephen Budiansky on Walsingham's tactics. Budiansky, author of Her Majesty's Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionage, will discuss Walsingham's use of double agents, his code-breaking and his other lines of defense for his queen.

The program takes place from noon to 1 p.m. today at the International Spy Museum, 800 F St. N.W., Washington. Free. Call 202-393-7798.

Music festival

The Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival gets in full swing tonight. The festival, which will feature two stages of entertainment, includes two performance sets by country music artist Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder Saturday. And tomorrow, Skaggs' wife Sharon, her sister Cheryl and father Buck, who together are the Whites, will perform two sets. The chart-topping group is known for its performance in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? The festival also presents music workshops with some of the performers, kids' activities, raffles and more.

Visitors are encouraged to camp out around the festival grounds or stay in one of the many nearby hotels. The four-day festival runs today through Sunday at the Granite Hill RV Resort at 3340 Fairfield Road in Gettysburg, Pa. Today, the show starts at 2 p.m. and the last show is at 10:15 p.m. Tomorrow, the show starts at 11 a.m. and the last show is at 11:15 p.m. Saturday, the show begins at 11 a.m. and the last show starts at 10:35 p.m. Sunday, the fair will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Prices range from $25 for Sunday admission only to $115 for all four days' admission. Discounts for children. Call 800-642-TENT or visit www.gettysburgbluegrass.com.

Country festival

Visit the Country Fest and Auction Saturday at the Garrett County Fairgrounds in McHenry. Events for children include horse and buggy rides, an aerial candy drop, hayrides, a petting zoo, pedal tractor pulls and train rides. There will be booths with crafts and home-made goods for sale, as well as books and gifts. The auction begins at 10:30 a.m. and will feature quilts, crafts and pine and oak furniture. There also will be demonstrations from soap-making to chair-caning. And visitors will find an array of foods available.

The Country Fest and Auction runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Garrett County Fairgrounds, on Route 219 along Deep Creek Lake in McHenry. Free. Call 301-245-4564 or visit www.countryfest.org.

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