Punkin Chunkin 2013

Where did the pumpkin go? I wondered, when I could no longer see the pumpkin just launched by a human powered machine.

The Launch

I removed my camera from in front of my face and searched the sky, suddenly aware that everyone around me was scurrying. Sent soaring over 100 feet in the sky, the pumpkin was now flying back down to earth, its trajectory not in front but behind the machine where many spectators, including myself, were watching.

All ages, from little kids to grown men and women, launch pumpkins on a cornfield at the World Championship Punkin Chunkin in Bridgeville, Delaware, each year on the first weekend in November.

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People from all over the U.S. and even Australia spend months building what they think will be the perfect machine to launch a pumpkin: a catapult, trebuchet, sling shot, centrifugal, or air cannon with names like Whirled Peace, Chunk-n-ology, Pumpkin Slayer, and Cinderella’s Revenge.

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IMG_2755 IMG_2758Thousands of spectators come to watch the pumpkin chucking and the people who chuck them.

The Crowd

Pumpkin LadyDogWith no idea where to go, I started to move then heard a loud splat! The pumpkin had landed. Right next to me.

The Pumpkin

From then on I was known as the person who almost got killed by a pumpkin.

Be sure to check out my photos from last year’s event in these posts: Chuckin Pumpkins at Punkin Chunkin, Checking Out the Big Guns, Hanging Out at Punkin Chunkin.

The WCPCA (World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association) “raises money for scholarships, as well as organizations that benefit youth and the local community.” The event will be televised on the Science Channel on Thanksgiving at 8 p.m.

Trip taken November 2013.

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Hanging Out at Punkin Chunkin

When we weren’t watching the machines, we were watching the people, on ATVs and golf carts, on couches on top of pickup trucks, wearing orange and black, some with real pumpkins on top of their heads.

We caught glimpses of Kari, Tory, and Grant from MythBusters interviewing people for the Science show on Punkin Chunkin.

We perused the many booths along the Midway, bought mittens and apple cider, tasted hot sauce and BBQ sauce, and ate pulled pork and crabcakes, funnel cakes and apple pie.

We left the Punkin Chunkin after sunset, tired and cold but ready to return next year to Bridgeport, Delaware, for another 3 days of competition, people watching, and fun.

Trip taken November 2012.

Chuckin Pumpkins at Punkin Chunkin

They were big and small, wood and metal, human and gas powered, but they were all designed to do the same thing: chuck or “chunk” pumpkins across a cornfield. Trebuchets, catapults, centrifugal machines, air cannons and their teams all gathered last weekend in Bridgeville, Delaware, for the 27th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin. And we were there.

After watching Punkin Chunkin on TV last Thanksgiving, my daughter and her friend decided they wanted to enter their own machine. A little less than a year later, they were in Bridgeville with their brothers and their own wooden catapult, named the Socket Monkey, ready to compete in the human powered youth competition.

The Punkin Chunkin competition usually lasts 3 days but due to recovery from Hurricane Sandy, each team’s three launches were squeezed into just 2 days. On Friday, the teams set up their machines, weighed their pumpkins (4 pounds was the minimum allowed), and erected their own backstop to prevent those accidental backwards flying pumpkins from launching into the crowd.

On Saturday, the competition began with the youngest competitors: children 10 and under operated their own catapults and trebuchets before the Socket Monkey launched its first pumpkin into the wind at about 8:30 a.m.

As the pumpkin hurled into the sky and splattered on the ground in the distance, volunteers on ATVs sped off with a GPS to measure the distance of the first chunk: 166 feet.

Somehow the organizers managed to squeeze in two launches for each of the 115 teams on Sunday, the last few chunks occurring at sunset. The Socket Monkey’s second pumpkin landed at 126 feet and its third at 172 feet, all respectable distances for our novice team but far less than its two competitors. Eleven-year veteran team Sister Slingers launched its pumpkin 681 feet.

But fifth time entrant Team Athena’s pumpkin went the winning distance of 983 feet, a world record for the youth human powered division.

The Socket Monkey team was happy. All chunks were forward, none were disqualified, there was no machine breakage, and the pumpkin never “pied” (splattered in the air). With a few tweaks, who knows how far the Socket Monkey will be able to hurl a pumpkin next year?

According to its website, the WCPCA (World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association) “raises money for scholarships, as well as organizations that benefit youth and the local community.” The event will be televised on the Science Channel on Thanksgiving at 8 p.m.

Check out my next post for photos of some of the other bigger machines at the Punkin Chunkin.

Trip taken November 2012.