This weekend in Sussex County, Delaware, there's going to be a whole lot of hurling going on! Hurling pumpkins that is. Because November 5-7 is the 25th Anniversary of the annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin event hosted by the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association (WCPCA).
This annual event began in 1986 when a group of friends sat in a local blacksmith's shop arguing over who could throw an anvil the farthest. Someone mentioned that a local college was having a pumpkin tossing contest as a fund raiser. This got the men to thinking. Anvils changed to pumpkins, and the first annual Punkin Chunkin contest was born.
In November of that year, Bill Thompson, Trey Melson, John Ellsworth, and the Burton Brothers, Chuck and Darryl, met on Thompson's farm outside Milton, Delaware, with their various pumpkin hurling apparatuses. Thompson and Melson were the first ever Punkin Chunkin champions with a throw of 128' 2". Three teams competed that first year, with a handful of onlookers.
This event has grown tremendously over the past twenty-five years. According to timesunion.com, last year's event hosted 80,000 spectators and this year's event will have 115 competing teams. Today, hardcore engineers and backyard tinkerers come from all over the country bringing elaborate catapults and pumpkin launching machines with the common goal of launching 8 to 10 pound pumpkins as far as mechanically possible. I'm proud to say that the current Punkin Chunkin champion and world record holders hale from my home state. Team "Big 10 Inch" from Utah launched a pumpkin 4,483 feet in 2009, just 800 feet short of a mile. According to Wikipedia.org, in September of 2010, the "Big 10 Inch" team returned to Utah and fired a pumpkin 5,545.43 feet - this shot is still pending certification by Guiness World Records.
For the third year in a row, the Punkin Chunkin Championship will be simulcast on the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel on Thanksgiving Day, and will be hosted by the "Mythbusters" T.V. show hosts, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman.
Proceeds from the event go to help the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital and Childhelp Organizations.
Sources: PunkinChunkin.com, Wikipedia.org, TheFutonCritic.com, TimesUnion.com