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Totally Blowing Shit Up Tuesdays: Pumpkin Chunkin'

November 3, 2009

I might have misled you all a little bit last week. See, while that pumpkin terrified the living hell out of the four-year-old version of me, thus removing the pall over my eyes and allowing me to see pumpkins as demonic, orange globes that they truly are, this time of year isn't hell for me. Mostly because I don't live in a pumpkin patch. If I did, however, I think I'd probably be a touch more anti-pumpkin than I already am. At this point, I don't fear the pumpkins so much as I did when I was younger; I'm bigger than they are (mostly). The thing I dislike most about pumpkins? Scooping their innards out while carving them. But, I do it, because of paternal mandates and parental instinct to make happy holiday memories.

Plus, pumpkins make an excellent pie. And cookies. And, I'm not opposed to a little pumpkin-pie-flavored creamer for in my coffee. And, as Tennyson ee Hemingway pointed out a couple of weeks ago, they make excellent soup. Thanks for the sharp reminder, my antipodean friend.

They also make excellent projectiles.

As Del-V mentioned last week, there's an annual event in the wilds of Delaware centered around throwing, heaving, launching and shooting pumpkins as far as humanly possible. Being that I'm both a man and easily amused, this event really excites me--perhaps the two are intertwined, I dunno, kind of like a caduceus or something similar. I have vowed that, someday, I will attend the Annual Punkin Chunkin event live and in person. I mean, a place like Millsboro, Delaware can't be too tough to find, right?

My attention was brought to the Pumpkin Chunkin contest through a special I saw on Discovery Channel one Christmas. I think it was my first Christmas after moving to North Carolina, and while everyone was getting the midday meal ready, my brother-in-law and I sat and watched this show about how a bunch of people design and build their own machines to hurl pumpkins as far as humanly possible. It involved trebuchets and mangonels and onagers, so you know I was hooked. We actually got yelled at for holding up the meal because we wanted to see if some guy with a massive trebuchet could set a new world record. Since no man stands between my father-in-law and his holiday meals, we had to miss the final throw and eat delicious, homemade food. Oh, the agony.

As an fucking cool would it be to just own a trebuchet?

Anyway, I thought that, since we've just been through the pumpkin's greatest month when not in pie form, we could step away from blowing them up and just watch them get thrown toward the horizon.

Here's a nice little example of some of the contraptions used to punish our favorite orange gourds. It's taken from the 2004 competition.

I realize that there's nothing, technically, being blown up, but it's still effing cool, right?

Because I like to go that extra effort to try and bring you guys the good stuff, I read through the rules for the competition. Well, I can safely say this isn't some Mickey Mouse Horseshit Dog and Pony Show (as my grandfather used to say). You've got to actually know what the hell you're doing to be out there firing off your trebuchet and hurling your pumpkins into the distance.

Have I mentioned how cool it would be to have your own trebuchet? I have? Okay, then let's move this along.

Anyway, there's seven adult divisions in the Punkin Chunkin contest: air cannons, centrifugal, catapults, trebuchets, human power, human power centrifugal, and torsion catapult. I won't get into the specifics of each kind, but obviously air cannons use compressed air, trebuchets are catapults with huge counterweights on them, and centrifugals are machines that spin, generating enough force and energy to convert the pumpkins into tiny dots and craters.

In case you're wondering, there are also youth divisions for competition, broken into 11-17 year old teams and under-10s. In a word, that's effing awesome.

And, when you're done watching the pumpkins flying off into the wild blue yonder, you can head down the road and drink yourself stupid at the Dogfish Head Brewery and maybe make some girls feel really uncomfortable on the boardwalk at Rehobath Beach. Oh, Delaware, with your teeny, tiny landmass, your fighting blue hens, your three counties, and your abundance of cities that start with the letters "Mil" (Milton, Milford, Millsboro...), who knew that you held so many wondrous and delicious creations?

By the way...Delaware Board of Tourism...I'm totally available to whore myself out for your state. Just say the words and sign the checks. I even promise to talk about something other than your duty-free liquor stores.


Moooooog35 said...

The 'adult divisions' don't include a 'hide the pumpkin' contest?


Del-V said...

Thanks for the plug!

My parents live in Lewes, DE. I've been to the Dogfish Head brewery tour a dozen times and it gets better every with every tour... that's because I get more and more drunk every time I go. Yes, DE sucks, but it has great beer, tax-free shopping and is the First State (meaning that the other 49 states lost the statehood race). That's about all DE has to offer.

Joshua said...

I think I know what and where my next solo vacation is going to be located. Nice.


Scope said...

That chick has nice gourds.

And I think a trip to Lowes with Tank is coming up to build a backyard trebuchet, as "research" for your books.

That's right, I'm an evil genius, using his powers for good.

Ed Adams said...

I thinking of starting one of these events in Indiana.

Instead of pumpkins, we'd use Nosy Neighbors, Ex-wives, and Democrats.

June said...

We attended one of these contests a couple years back in Wisconsin Rapids. Boy Wonder had a friend with and they loved the show. Good time.
We even got free Punkin' Chunkin t-shirts for from the local casino that was hosting the event. Would love to see another contest!

June said...

I just missed your last comment - Hell, if you are going to be chuckin' democrats I will help sponsor the event!!

JenJen said...

Such a bad man...misleading followers.
Fucking rude.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ Moooooog35: What do you think that guy with the pumpkin viking helmet is there to for?

@ Del-V: I was amused when you mentioned it last week, because I had planned on doing the Punkin Chunkin this week, so it worked out perfectly. Plus, I don't think you get nearly enough credit for your love of Adriana Lima.

@ Joshua: Set aside a weekend in November. The link shows you all the pertinent information that you'll need.

@ Scope: If I'm going to build a trebuchet, it's going to be grand enough to lay siege to something. Lizard Lick, NC...I'm looking at you.

@ Ed: Don't make up stories. I lived in Indiana for 26 years. There's no Democrats there.

@ Carol: I've heard that there are other contests around, but I didn't know where all they were. I know of at least one in Ohio and, of course, the big one in Delaware. Sounds like a good time.

@ Carol 2: The only people I can get behind when it comes to Chunkin is asshats and Purdue fans. But, that's kind of one in the same...

carissajaded said...

Um. this sounds amazing!

But really, I don't understand how you can enjoy throwing a pumpkin, but not enjoy the goo on the inside. That is my favorite part about halloween. I love sticking my hands in that goo and squishing them around. Is that weird?

Adam L. said...

A "pumpkin chuckin'" event was just started here in sunny Urbana this year.

Every 9 minutes it was "3... 2... 1... chuck that pumpkin!" and I would imagine that they did, in fact, chuck a pumpkin.

I have wanted to build a trebuchet since college (we watched a video in physics about it YAY SCIENCE) but have not the time nor the means to build it... for now...

adrienzgirl said...

This is like a potato launcher, only way way cooler! :P

red said...

Goddamned Dogfish Head won't leave me alone!!!

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ Carissa: Yes. Yes, that is weird.

@ Adrienzgirl: True, but a potato gun usually has some sort of combustion which provides the thrust to launch the potato. These guns are all supposed to use compressed air, as combustion of any kind is not allowed.

@ Adam: I'm hoping that with all the chanting and such, there was either punkins being chunked, or ritualized virgin sacrifice.

@ red: I included Dogfish Head just for you, red. See how much I care?

Eric said...

Pumpkins thrown from trebuchets work better if frozen solid.

JenJen said...

All the times I read and comment. Read and comment. Read. And. Comment.

And, nothing.

JennyMac said...

A friend told me about something like this in their city. The name alone is titillating. LOL.

And I will only go if I can wear the pumpkin helmet.

Bev said...

"Hey look. We're in Delaware."

That chick does indeed have nice gourds, and a nice flat stomach too. *sigh* I need to hit the gym, and maybe not eat any more pumpkin-based products for a while.

snowelf said...

The pumpkin patch where we used to live had a giant pumpkin cannon. They would load pumpkins into it, ring a little bell, then blast them into infinity and beyond.

It was awesome.

Of course, there may be a giant patch of disgruntle pumpkins lurking in the woods they shoot them into plotting their evil revenge for being propelled through the air and splattered to fragmented pumpkin bits instead of allowing them their dream of becoming Jack O Lanterns.
But eh. Who cares...