March 21, 2003
WHEN most people think of pumpkins, they think of Halloween. But when the good people of Millsboro, Delaware, think of pumpkins, they think of slinging them over great distances in order to win prizes. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I give you the World Championship Punkin Chunkin (punkinchunkin.com).
Punkin chunkin (punkins are, apparently, pumpkins grown in Cuba) came about back in the heady days of 1986, when a few guys started throwing pumpkins. Then they used a catapult and started to wonder how to make them go further and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Nowadays the contest attracts the best part of 20,000 people, all there to watch large orange vegetables being slung about a field. And the competitors donít use catapults any more, oh no. A look at the gallery pages reveals that Sussex County must look much like the east bank of the Volga during the Battle of Stalingrad (oooooo, get the history buff). The machines used resemble huge artillery pieces and, powered by compressed air, can throw a punkin over 3,000ft Ė thatís a lot better than the 300ft the founders managed with their catapult.
Check out the team sites, too. The reigning champions Ė Second Amendment Gun (secondamendmentgun.us) Ė are the current world record holders, with a launcher thatís got a 100ft barrel and can launch a punkin 4,590ft. Thatís nearly a mile, which is pretty impressive as the launcher was built in someoneís backyard by amateurs over a period of two months. They entered the contest in 1999 and came fifth and by last year were champs for the second time running and had set the new world record.
Thereís also clubmedia.com/punkin, a site which gives a ton more information, video clips, pictures and T-shirts dedicated to punkin chunkin. This really is something thatís got a lot of people involved and excited, which means itís either the best idea since sex-doll rafting or thereís not much to do in Delaware. My moneyís on the second one.
ITíS always annoying when you come across a new sport that deserves publicity but doesnít have a website. Yes, Great Fruitcake Toss of Manitou Springs, Colorado, Iím talking to you...