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Pumpkin Chucking, or for rhyming purposes Punkin Chunkin, is the sport of hurling or 'chucking' a pumpkin solely by mechanical means for distance. The devices used include slingshots, catapults, centrifugals, trebuchets, and pneumatic cannons.
Pumpkin chunking competitions, formal and informal, exist throughout the United States in the autumn, and often occur when pumpkins are harvested. World Championship Punkin Chunkin, held annually in November in Delaware by the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association (WCPCA), is the oldest and largest annual competition. The event began in 1986, and in 2010 featured over 100 teams. A European Championship has been held in Bikschote, Belgium each year since 2004.
The Guinness world record shot is held by a pneumatic cannon dubbed "Big 10 Inch", at 5,545.43 feet (1,690.25 m), on September 9, 2010 in Moab, Utah. The shot received certification from Guinness World Records in early February 2011. The WCPCA World Record, which includes only shots made at the annual World Championship event, is held by Team American Chunker, captained by Brian Labrie of New Hampshire, at 4,694.68 feet (1,430.94 m) on November 1, 2013 in Bridgeville, Delaware, the longest shot in event history.
The range achieved by devices greatly depends on their mass, shape, and size; the yield limits, stiffness, pitch, and elevation of the hurler; and the weather. The pumpkin is another important variable since sabots are often prohibited in competitions. The most common pumpkin varieties used are Caspers, Luminas, and La Estrellas – these varieties typically have thicker rinds and can better withstand the forces of launch. A usual rule is that the pumpkin must remain whole after leaving the device until hitting the ground for the chunk to count. Pumpkins that burst after leaving the barrel or sling are referred to as "pie" (short for "pumpkin pie in the sky").
World Championship Punkin Chunkin (WCPC) is the name of an annual contest held the first full weekend after Halloween in Sussex County, Delaware. It is governed by the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association (WCPCA).
Teams compete in the following divisions: Air Cannon, Female Air Cannon, Centrifugal, Catapult, Torsion, Trebuchet, Human Powered, Centrifugal Human Powered, Youth Air Cannon, Youth Catapult, Youth Trebuchet, Youth Human Powered, Youth 10 & Under, and Theatrical. Each division competes strictly for distance except for the Theatrical division which relies on a fan vote. The teams get three shots, one taken on each of three consecutive days. Only a team's longest shot is scored for official results. Spotters riding on ATVs find the impact point, and then a professional surveyor calculates the distance based on GPS coordinates of the impact and the machine. The impact point is marked with color-coded spray paint to avoid confusion with future shots.
For the entertainment of spectators, the event also features amusement rides, food vendors, fireworks, live concerts, a pumpkin cooking contest, a chili cook-off, the Miss Punkin Chunkin pageant, and other attractions.
The WCPCA takes measures to protect participants and spectators, with the only fatality in the event's history being a duck hit by a pumpkin that had been shot out of an air cannon.
The event originated in 1986, and early in its history convened in Lewes, Delaware. Due to increasing space requirements (distance of shots, number of teams, and number of spectators) new locations in Sussex County had to be found. In 2007, WCPC moved to its current location (at ) in Bridgeville, near the intersection of Seashore Highway and Chaplains Chapel Road. About 75 teams competed, the event drew more than 20,000 people, and grossed more than $800,000 in ticket sales and associated revenues. More than 70% of that money would be donated to a variety of community organizations.
The Science Channel currently owns the television broadcast rights to the WCPC contest. After the 2010 event the WCPCA and the Science Channel agreed to a new 3-year contract that runs through the 2013 WCPC. In 2009 and 2010 the "Punkin Chunkin" special aired on tape delay on Thanksgiving Day. Each year of coverage thus far has featured an hour long special titled "Road to the Chunk" that preceded coverage of the WCPC event. The previous year's contest is shown around Halloween and sporadically throughout the year. Road to Punkin Chunkin 2011 featured three 30-minute episodes airing weekly leading up to Thanksgiving.
The first televised Punkin Chunkin special was aired by the Discovery Channel in 2002, hosted by Bryan Callen. In 2008, after a six-year hiatus, Punkin Chunkin returned to cable television on the Science channel as a 1-hour program, hosted by Brad Sherwood. By 2010, the special had become two hours long. That year it was hosted by Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage of the Discovery Channel program MythBusters. Since 2011, the special has been hosted by the MythBusters "Build Team" of Tory Belleci, Kari Byron, and Grant Imahara.
|Year||Team Name||Distance (feet)|
|2013||American Chunker Inc||4,694.68|
|2012||Young Glory III||3,887.92|
|2011||Second Amendment Too||4,329.37|
|2009||Big 10 Inch||4,162.65|
|2008||Young Glory III||4,483.51|
|2007||Big 10 Inch||4,211.27|
|1999||Big 10 Inch||3,695|
|1998||Q36 Pumpkin Modulator||4,026|
|1996||Q36 Pumpkin Modulator||2,710|
|1988||Melson - Thompson||600|
|1987||Melson - Thompson||300|
|1986||Melson - Thompson||178|
As of November 2013[update], the world records to have been established at the WCPC event are:
|Machine Class||Team Name||Distance (feet)||Year|
|Adult Air||American Chunker Inc||4,694.68||2013|
|Adult Female Air||Hormone Blaster||4,382.96||2013|
|Adult Centrifugal||Bad To The Bone||3,245.58||2013|
|Adult Catapult||Fibonacci Unlimited II||2,862.28||2005|
|Adult Trebuchet||Yankee Siege II||2,835.81||2013|
|Adult Human Powered||Shooda Noed Beter||2,048.52||2013|
|Adult Torsion||Chucky III||3,636.39||2011|
|Adult Centrifugal Human Powered||Smokin Lamas||1,776.37||2013|
|Youth Air||Snot Rocket||4,206.32||2013|
|Youth Catapult||The Plague||1,568.82||2011|
|Youth Trebuchet||Colossal Thunder||2,402.63||2013|
|Youth Human Powered||Stomach Virus||1,230.12||2013|
|Youth 10 & Under||Little Blaster||1,939.81||2002|
|Youth 10 & Under Catapult||Jersey Devil||1,272.64||2013|
|Youth 10 & Under Trebuchet||Pumpkin Pirates||418.99||2013|
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