By BRENDA J. LINERT
GARRETTSVILLE - Some 500 opponents of hydraulic fracturing from the United States and Canada will gather this weekend for an outdoor music and educational festival planned for a Portage County campground and park, an organizer said.
The event, being billed as an "International Gathering" at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, also will help serve as a campaign fundraiser for an anti-frac "Community Bill of Rights" issue set to appear on the November Youngstown ballot.
"The goal (of the event) is to unite everybody and have fun," said one of the organizers, John D. Williams of McDonald. "We have all heard the speakers speak, but there's a lot of new people that need to hear it."
Other organizers include No Fracking Way America and FrackFree Mahoning.
Williams said many participants plan to arrive at the park Friday evening and will stay until Sunday at the campground facilities. There are opening events planned for Friday evening. Saturday's activities include educational tents, crafts, music and children's events, along with speakers mostly in the evening, Williams said.
The goal of the Youngstown ballot issue is to ban all hydraulic fracturing-related drilling or businesses in the city limits. Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a process of accessing petroleum-locked shale thousands of feet below the earths surface. The process involves pumping millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand into the rocks thousands of feet down in order to free the petroleum products trapped there.
While the process is not new, it has become the focus of much debate since new horizontal drilling techniques have made the process more successful, stepping up rig operations and other related development in eastern Ohio.
Supporters of the oil and natural gas drilling industry seemed unimpressed with the lineup.
"This is just another event where they are going to rehash disproven theories," said Shawn Bennett, a spokesman for Energy in Depth Ohio, a research, education and public outreach campaign for the Independent Petroleum Association of America. "This is nothing more than a fundraising effort on behalf of the Youngstown Bill of Rights issue."
Williams said he also was excited to present video Skype sessions with overseas fracking opponents in countries such as Poland, Ireland and England. Those sessions, he said, would be going on throughout the day Saturday.