Story last updated at 12:20 p.m. Thursday, May 2, 2002

What this town needs is a town square, so that every Cinco de Mayo the Betster and his amigos can go downtown and listen to mariachi music in the sun. Well, wrapped in a fleece jacket maybe, since this is Homer, and since May is officially spring, and springtime in Homer can mean everything from blistering heat to snow squalls. Anyhow, this is the weekend to celebrate Mexican independence from Spain, and Alaskans are nothing if not freedom lovers. There are Cinco de Mayo celebrations on the Cuatro de Mayo (Saturday), but the Betster will hold off. In the meantime, don't miss these other Best Bets. Ajua!

Best paint the town clean bet: Grab your rubber boots and a pair of work gloves, pick up some free trash bags and go out Saturday to spruce up your neighborhood. When your trash is all gone, take the bags down to the Homer Chamber of Commerce (before 3 p.m. of course) and see if you've won second or third prize. The Betster is aiming for first, so don't get your hopes up.

Best "Ride, Sally, Ride" Bet: If that Mustang or Corvette or even that old Plymouth station wagon of yours looks as dirty as the Betmeister's, drive it out to Anchor Point from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday for a benefit car wash at the fire hall. The money goes to a good cause, and your car gets hosed down by a fire truck.

BEST CALLING ALL FRIENDS BET: If you've got friends from the Big City, the Twin Cities, the City on the Edge of Nowhere or anywhere else you want to see, tell 'em to come down this weekend, because they can save big bucks and have a great time. It's the annual Homer Exposure weekend, which is packed with $20 specials and two-for-one offerings on everything from lodging to flightseeing, fishing charters, meals and more. Call the Homer Chamber of Commerce at 235-7740.

BEST WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BET: As most are aware by now, the Betster is something of a wine connoisseur. Oh yes, she likes the ones that are eager, but not ostentatious, with hints of peat smoke, peach, charcoal, chocolate and oak. Others not so fortunate might want to participate in the Homer Chamber of Commerce's Spring Fling Wine Tasting on Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the chamber office. Specialty Wine Imports of Anchorage and the Homestead Restaurant are providing the goodies, and the $25 tickets beef up the chamber's scholarship fund. Call 235-7740.

Best toot a horn bet: The Betster's never been one to shy away from tooting a horn or two, especially when it comes to self-appreciation, but this weekend's Anchorage Horn Club concert puts all that to shame. The 10-member troupe will wow the crowd with everything from the haunting "Alaska Flag Song" to an in-depth look at the history of horns, including the an 8-foot-long alphorn. The show starts Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Bunnell Street Gallery. Call 235-2662 for more info.

Best art attack bet: The only problem with this week's First Friday art offering is trying to make it to all the events in one night. Several galleries have jumped into the mix this month, so the Betster has worked out a plan to pace all wine-sipping and hors d'oeuvres-munching until mid-way through the evening. Some must-sees are the juried "Works on Paper Exhibition" at Bunnell Street Gallery, an art show made of beachcombing treasures by Michael Armstrong at the Homer Council on the Arts, and the Pratt Museum's extensive exhibit, "Looking Both Ways: Heritage and Identity of the Alutiiq People." Check out Page 19 for the details.

Best adopt-a-tree bet: The Betster's been noticing a few gaping holes in the vistas surrounding the home front since a winter storm turned those gray towers of decay formerly known as trees to fiddle-sticks. Luckily, the insightful folks at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge noticed all the greenery about to become brownery at the site of the soon-to-be-built Marine Center across the Sterling Highway from the Petro Express Tesoro. A tree and plant dig is scheduled for Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. on the property, and local plant experts will be around to help folks find their favorite flora and make sure it's still living when you get it home. Call 226-1227.