Punkin Chunkin

Punkin Chunkin

Maybe times used to be simpler. With that said, there are at least some instances where they were way less awesome!

As a kid I remember turning anything into a game. A stick, rock, or even an occasional chunk of mud could turn a lazy Saturday afternoon into a fierce contest to see who could launch the object the furthest. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones and, in fact, some of the others seem to have grown up and, instead of abandoning their game, they turned it into an incredibly unique hobby.

As we researched material for this edition of the HUB Insider, we stumbled upon what could be the world’s largest group of “adult children” at the annual “Pumpkin Chunkin” contest in Sussex County, Delaware. In its simplest form, it is a contest to see who can launch a pumpkin the farthest. In actuality, it is an ultra-competitive science experiment/fair complete with website (www.punkinchunkin.com), official apparel, and member association. The event itself held over three days in November boasts sponsors, bands, vendors and more than ten categories of competitors ranging from Youth 10 & Under Human Power Class to Adult 18 & Older Air Class. This year, the event will even be simulcast on the Discovery and Science Channels on November 24th.

The event started pretty much like I described above with one of the founding members stating, “It all started back in 1986. We were playing around one day and somebody started talking about throwing pumpkins. There had been an article in a newspaper or on television about some people throwing pumpkins at Salisbury State, a physics class or something. One of us said that they could throw further than someone else and I threw my hat on the ground.” That first contest was won on a throw of 126 feet. 2011’s winning shot went more than 3000 feet into a head wind.

As it turns out, the problem with firing pumpkins in November is that it is just too cold to get the maximum possible distance. In 2010, a family team from Pennsylvania determined that September was ideal pumpkin launching weather and hauled their 90-foot compressed air cannon across the country to a dry lake bed near Moab, UT to try and beat their own world distance record of 4623 feet set the previous year. After taking variables like wind, temperature and even hauling their own La Estrella variety pumpkins (because they are the roundest) across the country, they launched nine pumpkins.

Each of the pumpkins travelled more than 4600 feet and probably would have beat their record but they decided to only measure the two longest shots.  Using survey equipment it was determined that the furthest shot went 5,545 feet, 5 inches (a mile is 5280 feet).

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