HARFORD, PA. - July 20 was an uncomfortably warm and muggy day at the Harford Fairgrounds in Susquehanna County, also opening the opportunity for sudden thunderstorms to appear with little warning.

However, the weather did little to deter more than 8,500 people from attending Cabot Oil and Gas's fourth annual Community Picnic on that day at the fairgrounds. It was the biggest crowd the picnic has ever seen.

Whether it was education, food or fun, there was something from everyone at the picnic, ranging from education on drilling and production to learning opportunities about the uses of CNG.

"People can come here to learn about the equipment that we use, our safety standards, meet our geologists, learn what's coming up for drilling and production and win prizes," External Affairs Coordinator Bill desRosiers said. "One thing we've added that we're excited about is how we're cooking our burgers on the grill. We've taken our CNG equipment that we typically use in our operations and we're using natural gas to grill the food."

The picnic, which was held from noon until 4 p.m. and was free to attend, also featured raffles, live music and kids' activities.

"This year, the big-ticket prizes for our raffle include a grill, an HDTV, an iPad Mini and a Tour of Tunkhannock gift basket," desRosiers said. "The gift basket contains a variety of gift cards and items from businesses in Tunkhannock."

Another welcome addition to the picnic was the amount of businesses and organizations outside of Cabot that participated in the event.

"This was our biggest year ever - the attendance was up and we had over 70 vendors from industry and community organizations," External Affairs Coordinator Brittany Thomas said. "It's always great to have a representation from all aspects of the supply chain to show people just how many jobs the natural gas industry touches. Plus, with local colleges and trade schools represented it shows residents how varied the skill sets are throughout the industry."

For the third straight year, Linde Corporation made the trip to the picnic and brought back its popular spinning-wheel game, which often saw a long line throughout the afternoon.

"A lot of the companies attending upped their game this year," spokesperson Kevin Lynn said. "The things that they've brought for people to see and do have just been great. Cabot's picnic just gets better every year, the food is great, and it's a lot of fun for everyone."

Schools and colleges attending the picnic included the Susquehanna County Career Center, Keystone College and Lackawanna College, which houses its School of Petroleum and Natural Gas in New Milford.

"We want to show northeastern Pennsylvania education in these fields and convince men and women that this kind of training is important for careers in natural gas industry," Betty-Ann Seelenbrandt said. "We promote hands-on learning and industry companies have been very supportive by donating equipment that we can use to teach students."

While last year the attendance surpassed Cabot's expectations, this year the company did even more to prepare for the record crowd.

"One thing that was a bit different this year was the actual footprint of the picnic," Thomas said. "We expanded it to include a larger number of vendors and it really helped with the flow of traffic throughout the day. Even though there were over 8,500 people there over the four hours it was rarely very congested by the vendors."

Although the weather wasn't quite ideal, Cabot's picnic continues to grow and the company is constantly looking to reach out to the local needs.

"The picnic continues to fill out the needs of the community and it's been a great opportunity for people to learn and have fun," Director of External Affairs George Stark said. "We've been promoting progressive education throughout the picnic; this year we've had more of a focus on the use of natural gas as it's used in our hospitals and schools and how it's growing in the community."

This story also appears in the latest Northeast Driller, which is available today. To read select stories from the Northeast Driller, visit www.northeastdriller.com.