When fall is ending, and Halloween is over, we usually have a lot of pumpkins and other assorted gourds to contend with. Whatever squash we grow but are unable to eat, can or pickle becomes a festive centerpiece or decoration. Usually when our pumpkins are starting to lose their luster, they either go to the goats or into the compost pile. But for the crazy people who started the sport of pumpkin chucking, past-their-prime pumpkins signify the start of their competition season.  

Pumpkin chucking (which overtime has been shortened to Punkin Chunkin) has been a sport of sorts for many years. The gist is this: you make a device that is capable of throwing a pumpkin a very long distance. That’s all there is to it. For this sport, it’s not really the pumpkin throwing that’s the best part, it’s the contraptions people come up with.  

The Guinness World Record for throwing a pumpkin the farthest distance belongs to a cannon named “Big 10 Inch.” This pneumatic cannon was set up in Moab, Utah and launched a pumpkin 5,545.43 feet in 2010.  

Team Ethos, a team comprised students and researchers from the Air Force Research Laboratory, created their pumpkin chucking machine based off designs used by ancient Greeks. Their torsion machine uses 100 pounds of rope woven together to create enough force to launch their pumpkins over 3,000 feet.  

Other machines used include trebuchets (a type of medieval catapult), centrifugals (which spin the pumpkin into oblivion) and large-scale slingshots.  

There are even festivals dedicated to this crazy endeavor. The World Championship Punkin Chunkin is an event held on-and-off in New Hampshire. Starting in 1986, competitors from all over the world traveled to a large field (donated by a local farmer) to see how far they can sling their gourds. Not surprisingly, this festival can get pretty dangerous. The World Championship has stopped being an annual festival due to multiple injuries, lawsuits and not being able to secure insurance before the event.  

After learning about this sport, we began to wonder…should we start pumpkin chucking? We do have a lot of land and the goats could clean up everything afterwards. Brent could use his fancy degrees to design a catapult, Josh could rally up some people to watch. It could be a new addition to Harvest Fest! 

But then we thought about the logistics and the potential damage to the land. Not to mention, if we started tossing pumpkins via trebuchet around the farm, it might startle our neighbors.   

So maybe we’ll just be content with carving our pumpkins for Jack O’ Lanterns or roasting them for recipes. And if we want the thrill of seeing a pumpkin smash into the ground, we’ll just clear the goats out of the pen, toss some pumpkins in and let the kids clean up the mess. 

 

by Josh and Brent

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