Games bring energy to county fairgrounds

HUGHESVILLE – From an obstacle course to a heavy equipment rodeo, the inaugural PA Energy Games gave those in the energy industry and the public an opportunity to enjoy a day of music, education and festivities at the county fairgrounds Saturday.

The event brought families, energy industry employees and other vendors together to explore the many energy sources available to residents, explained Rory Sweeney, organizer.

“The whole idea is to make people think about the big picture and understand how much work goes into allowing us to live our 21st-century lifestyle,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney explained that the event was the brain child of he and Bill Holbrook in a Towanda cafe about a year ago when Holbrook was looking to host a networking event.

“We sat there and he was trying to pick my brain on how to get involved in the industry,” Sweeney explained.

And after initially discussing an event for industry officials to meet each other, Sweeney then thought of also including the public and adding an educational element, as well. And then the two decided to “go big or go home,” and include a variety of other activities and a concert-like atmosphere – which included the Uptown Music Collective and platinum-selling artist Clay Walker.

“Then we said, ‘Let’s go big,’ ” Sweeney noted.

“We didn’t just want it to be a business-to-business networking event we wanted an event for the whole family,” he added.

Activities at the event included a kids zone – which had an educational scavenger hunt and climbing, among others – and an obstacle/safety course competition. Participants were required to perform a variety of activities, weaving in and out of a line of barrels while pushing a tire and finding tools in a pile of hay.

But the biggest crowd was in attendance for the rodeo – but they left the livestock at home Saturday as it was a heavy equipment rodeo.

Brian Slavinski, of Medico Industries, explained that each team consisted of two operators that competed in activities involving a articulating wheel loader and crawler excavator.

The operator on the wheel loader was required to move three PVC pipes into certain positions on a course, while the excavator operator placed two soccer balls into trash cans and dragged another without hitting a cross bar.

“They just got a feel for the machine,” Slavinski said on how smooth the competitors behind the controls of the machines.

Overall, Sweeney said he’s heard good reactions from both the industry and public on the event and hoped it allowed everyone a learning opportunity.

“The whole idea of this is to make this positive for the entire industry and family,” he said.