What happens when you combine leftover Halloween pumpkins and big ol’ farm boys with too much time on their hands and extra equipment? A Punkin’ Chunkin’ contest, of course. Held this past weekend in Delaware, the 25th Anniversary of the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association brought teams from up and down the East Cost to see how far their punkins could fly.
“We had a great, great turnout,” said Frank Shade, the event’s media director. “We’ve had a real strong headwind, so I doubt any records were broken, but we had a lot of good thows.”
Full numbers of attendance were not yet available, but DelawareOnline.com reported that total attendance was predicted to surpass last year’s record of 80,000. Shade commented that the field’s Verizon tower, which normally reports about 750 “hits” per day, was receiving about 7,500 hits, causing some cellular communication issues.
Scheduled for broadcast on the Discovery and Science channels on Thanksgiving, the Chunkin’ contest featured three days (distilled into three hours for TV) of high-flying excitement hosted by “Mythbusters” stars Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. Science will air a “Road to Punkin Chunkin” special November 24 at 10 PM.
“It’s the highest-rated event on the channel,” said the Science Channel’s general manager of programming and executive vice president Debbie Myers. “It’s pure Americana and ingenuity. The teams take it seriously, and the characters are over the top.”
The main competition centers on 110 teams that use creatively-engineered “chunkers” to launch their pumpkins into space – or at least far, far away. The goal? To get the gourd to fly at least a mile away – a feat that hasn’t yet been accomplished … or at least captured on record. The current record is 4,483.51 feet by team Young Glory III in 2008. The 2009 “Air” winners, “Big Ten Incher” came close last year with a distance of 4,116 feet.
The three-day event includes a “Miss Punkin Chunkin” contest, a chili cookoff, and separate competitions for men, women, youth, and children under ten. Separate categories include human powered, trebuchet, catapult, centrifugal force and air machines.
Lest you think it’s just a bunch of hillbillies running around with their punkins, think again – media director Frank Shade ran for Delaware’s 37th Congressional District in the State House of Representatives this past year.
Want to catch the action? You’ll have to tune in on November 24th and 25th. In the meantime, enjoy the photo gallery (courtesy of DelawareOnline.com).
Or you can practice your singing of the official Punkin Chunkin song (yes, there’s a song, we’re not making this up), written 1989 by William and Dawn Thompson, has become a traditional part of the event’s daily opening ceremonies. It’s pasted below for your viewing pleasure:
It was the end of October, the beginning of November.
The air was cold and clear and I said, Boys listen here,
I think I can make a punkin fly.
John said, Cannot. I said, Can too.
So we put that punkin in a bucket, swung around, away it flew.
John said, No fair. We said, Hell, it’s in the air.
So the challenge was made and the gauntlet was laid
To build a machine to power a punkin through the air.
John said, Springs are the way to go. Bill said, I don’t believe so.
It’s Punkin Chunkin time again.
Come on, all you neighbors and friends.
I’ll show you how to make a punkin fly … rain, snow or blow.
Them punkins are gonna go!