Saturday, August 12, 2017

People's Choice Chili Cook-off Contest Info

For the fourth year in a row, the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival is proud to offer a People’s Choice Chili Cook-off Contest during the festival. This year the chili contest/VTPC Festival is at Stoweflake Mountain Resort on Sunday, September 24th, 2017. Last year we had seven competitors and ran out of chili before the end of the festival. Keith Thompson, owner of Thompson’s flour shop in Morrisville, has graciously agreed to return to organize the competition for us. Help us keep this fun tradition going!

Information, Rules and Registration

Rules & Registration- (updated 8/11/17)

  • Entry fee is $10.00 (includes chef’s entry fee to festival). Pre-registration is preferred.
  • Each competitor must supply 2 gallons of chili to be judged.
  • Tents and electricity will be provided. It is recommended that competitors bring extension cords.
  • Event will go on- rain or shine, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
  • Some seating is provided for samplers. Bring your own, if desired.
  • Competitors will be ready to start serving their chili at 12:15pm. Please plan accordingly.
  • Samplers, bowls, napkins and spoons will be provided.
  • Contact Heidi Dwyer via email to register or to ask questions:

Please provide the following information to register for the contest:


Team name (optional):

Email address:

Telephone number:

Chili Recipe Name and Description:

Ingredients (optional):

Friday, June 30, 2017

3rd Annual Extreme Chunkin Event – Loudon, NH, October 14-15, 2017

Brian Labrie, captain of the current WCPCA Champion and World Record Holder (air cannon), Team American Chunker, sent us an invitation to his big New England event: ExtremeChunkin. It will be held on October 14-15, 2017, at the Louden, New Hampshire Speedway. Last year they had four trebuchets competing in the adult division and four in the youth division. Team Yankee Siege II won the trebuchet division last year with a throw of 2608.44 feet. Yankee Scout won the Eastern Propane and Fuel Youth division with a throw of 491.43 feet. Anyone with an interest in the sport of pumpkin chunkin should head over to Loudon, NH, in October to either watch or compete.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
American Chunker Defends Title (Oct. 17, 2016)

2016 Extreme Chunkin - pumpkin hurling results
2016 Extreme Chunkin Results
Hi Dave,

I hope all is well with you and your chunkin group. The Extreme Chunkin crew would like to invite you again to the 3rd annual punkin chunkin event in Loudon, NH. If you have any teams that you think may want to make the journey we would like to formally invite them! Hope you can make it!



Thanks Brian,

Happy chunkin.

ExtremeChunkin 2017

Team American Chunker
Team American Chunker

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Final Results 2016 – World Championship Punkin Chunkin

Moonshiner, Tim Smith, with a few fans at the Punkin Chunk
Moonshiner, Tim Smith, with a few fans at the 2016 Punkin Chunk

The final results for the 2016 World Championship Punkin Chunkin were recently posted on their website. Because the accident happened during the final 3rd round of the Adult Air Cannon competition, and that chunk round was not completed, none of the chunks from that round were counted in the final results.
2016 Results -- here are some of the notable results...

Adult Air Cannons

Machine NameChunk 1Chunk 2
1stAmerican Chunker Inc3338.824305.82
2ndBig 10 Inchpie3866.58
3rdPlease Release Me3257.273864.48

Adult Trebuchet

Machine NameChunk 1Chunk 2Chunk 3
1stColossal Thunder2214.59pie2625.87
2ndYankee Seige II1860.152603.631643.53
3rdPunkin Hammerpie2509.441591.15

Youth Trebuchet

Machine NameChunk 1Chunk 2Chunk 3
1stStomach Virus-1171.55-
2ndTroop Six Shooter II333.57415.22-

10 and Under Trebuchet

Machine NameChunk 1Chunk 2Chunk 3
1stPumpkin Pirates434.22466.64550.43
2ndPop Pops Machine325.15499.16230.46
3rdSuper Ray Trebuchet97.89219.53227.7

Adult Human Power

Machine NameChunk 1Chunk 2Chunk 3
1stShooda Noed Beter2343.422287.841870.2
3rdGenes Machinebackfire991.021434.95

History lesson

The Colossal Thunder trebuchet team from Oklahoma have the current world record for a trebuchet, but with an asterisk. Their record throw of 3,288.6* feet in the Adult Trebuchet division was recorded in October, 2015 at the WCPC sanctioned punkin chunk in Aurora, Colorado, Punkin Chunkin Colorado, which is held at an elevation above 5,000 feet. Therefore two records are listed, with Yankee Siege II holding the closer to sea level record of 2835.81 feet, set in 2013, for an Adult Trebuchet.

Colossal Thunder Trebuchet team at 2015 Colorado Punkin Chunkin
Colossal Thunder trebuchet team at 2015 Colorado Punkin Chunkin

Mark Antonation / October 12, 2015 / :
Colorado Punkin Chunkin Squashes Hopes in Delaware Raises Readers Ire

WCPC pics:

Looking down the barrel of an air cannon at Punkin Chunkin
Looking down the barrel of an air cannon at Punkin Chunkin

Aerial view of 2016 Punkin Chunk
Aerial view of 2016 Punkin Chunk

Punkin Chunkin  pictures via PunkinChunkin Facebook page

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Status Report: World Championship Punkin Chunkin

The big boy Punkin Chunkin event in Delaware is at a crossroads following the tragic accident at their World Championship Punkin Chunkin (WCPC) in Bridgeville, Delaware, on Sunday, November 6th, 2016.

The latest news is that the competition has lost its broadcast deal with the Science Channel. That announcement was made in mid-February. But, the WCPC president, Frank Payton, did say that the 2017 Punkin Chunkin will still be held November 3rd - 5th at Wheatley Fields near Bridgeville, Delaware. Now, they just need to find some new partners/sponsors to help support the event.

Punkin Chunkin President Frank Payton holds press conference
WCPC President Frank Payton holds press conference
Feb, 13, 2016 /
Delaware Punkin Chunkin loses broadcast deal with Science Channel --
... Punkin Chunkin president Frank Payton says the Science Channel will not return to Delaware for the 2017 event. "With them withdrawing from the event, a major portion of the funding that we need to operate has left with them," Payton said. "We are in the market to establish new mutually beneficial partnerships for 2017."

Payton said the group already has a commitment from a farmer to host the event at Wheatley Farms near Bridgeville on Nov. 3-5, but they need more support to make it happen. "If you wish to see the Chunk continue, we need your support now more than ever," Payton said in a plea for help...
Here's the link to the WCPC Facebook video of the full press conference.

The details about the aftermath of the WCPC accident were not widely reported. Here is what happened.

During the last few hours of the WCPC competition, when the air cannons were completing their final round of firing, shortly before 2:40 pm, the "Pumpkin Reaper" air cannon blew a large metal trap door, about the size of a car door, off of it's air tank during their 3rd and final shot. The metal door flew about 30 to 40 feet high in the air and landed on two people, a 39-year-old women and a 56-year-old man. The most seriously injured was the women, Suzanne Dakessain, a video producer for the Science Channel. The heavy metal plate had hit her on the head. Ms. Dakessian was stabilized at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and then flown to Christiana Hospital. She needed emergency surgery to remove part of her skull in order to relieve brain swelling and save her life. The male victim was also taken to Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. He received treatment for non-life-threatening injuries.

Suzanne Dakessian in the hospital after the Punkin Chunkin explosion
Suzanne Dakessian needed emergency surgery after the Punkin Chunkin accident

"There's a piece of bone missing from my head right now," Dakessian said. "I look in the mirror and see these purple raccoon eyes. Before this accident, my life was easy. My biggest concern was getting to work on time. Now, I struggle putting on a jacket. I struggle zipping a zipper. I struggle opening a sugar packet. Right now everything is very unpredictable but I'm just trying to stay hopeful."
As of late November, Ms. Dakessian was blind in one eye and she could not move one of her hands. She still required more surgery and she was transferring to New Jersey to take rehab.

Best wishes to Suzanne Dakessian for her speedy recovery.
Pieces of ironically named "Pumpkin Reaper" are blown off the air cannon


Suzanne Dakessian before accident9
Suzanne Dakessian before accident
Lisa Rose / Nov. 28, 2016 / CNN:
Injured 'Punkin Chunkin' producer disappointed show is off, faces long recovery --
Suzanne Dakessian's memory of the explosion is hazy. She ran as a large metal plate flew toward where she and other TV crew members were standing.

For a split second, she turned to see where the debris might land. That's when the plate struck her head.

I tried to run and I didn't make it," Dakessian said.

The 39-year-old New York television producer nearly died this month on a clear blue Sunday in a Delaware soybean field, where she was chronicling the 2016 World Championship Punkin Chunkin for the Science Channel...


Although the final results were not formally published by WCPC, news reports from the event said that on the last day of the 2016 World Championship Punkin Chunkin competition the trebuchet, Colossal Thunder, from the Northeast Technology Center in Afton, Oklahoma, had won. This machine was built by high school welding students, who had won the youth trebuchet championship in 2013. This time they took home the adult championship, with a throw of 2,625 feet on the final day. Good job out of you OK folks.

Colossal Thunder - 2016 Adult Trebuchet Champions

Also, the New Hampshire air cannon, American Chunker, had fired a pumpkin 4,305.92 feet on Day 2 of the event. So it was apparently leading that competition, when the event was cancelled on Sunday following the accident. Good job out of American Chunker; Brian Labrie and his team did it again.

The American Chunker website has a bunch of nice pictures that were taken at the 2016 WTPC in Bridgeville, Delaware, including this last one:

Punkin Chunkin Warning Sign - activities are inherently dangerous

2 hurt, 1 critically, after Punkin Chunkin explosion --

Lisa Rose / November 21, 2016 / CNN:
At Punkin Chunkin smashing pumpkins is a celebration of America --

More chunks:

There are now only 186 days until the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on Sunday, September 23, 2017. Do you know where your pumpkins are?

BTW, the Jay Community Recreational Centre in Jay, VT would like to have a trebuchet or catapult demonstrate their pumpkin chuckin' prowess at their Fall event, which will be held on Saturday, October 7th, 2017, two weeks after our VTPC. If you are interested please contact:

Sally Rivard, Chair
Jay Community Recreational Centre
285 North Jay Road
Jay, VT 05859
tel: 802-318-1206

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Final Results and Report for the 8th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on Sept. 25th, 2016

We had a gorgeous, sunny, sometimes windy day at the Stoweflake Resort and Spa for the Eighth Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival with 18 teams competing in the chuck, 7 teams in the Chili Cook Off, 43 volunteers and over 1200 spectators enjoying the chuckin, chili, beer, wine, homemade pies, two bands, face-painting, balloon animals, games and volleyball.  Over $8000 was raised for the Lamoille Restorative Center (Hyde Park) whose 23 staff and volunteers did an amazing job helping with the festival.  LRC is doing great work and it was a pleasure to work with them.

Apparent Story of the festival: Father and son sweep?

It seems like the story of the festival was Dave Jordan (that's me, the organizer) after seven years of failing miserably to fire his trouble prone trebuchet, finally getting off one good throw.  And an awesome throw it was, especially considering how low I had set people's expectations.  The five pound payload went a record 693 feet (got credit for 689 because of a small weight penalty) and won the overall Best Design Grand Prize.

Don, Chris and Ann Jordan (Dave Jordan's father from Palmyra, NY, and aunt and uncle from FL) formed Team Jordan who had two pity-inspiring throws in the 1st and 2nd round; and then miraculously threw 285 feet (scaled up to 489) on their last chuck.  They were surprised by the last throw and even more surprised to find they had won the highly competitive Middleweight Open Division.

Real Story:  Nine year old girl and her dad

Emmerson Stapleton repeated her utter domination of the Lightweight Division with her innovative tripod collapsing trebuchet throwing an incredible 200 feet, which when scaled to Heavyweight would throw 590 feet!  (More on “scaling” below).  She would have been the first female and the first Lightweight to win the Best Design Grand Prize in the history of the eight year festival... if I hadn't had a very lucky, wind assisted, “throw of my life”.  Jonathon Stapleton, Emmerson's dad, brought a similar design trebuchet to the Heavyweight Division, but the design seems to be tricky to scale up to that weight.  Nonetheless, he threw a very respectable 475 feet, and once he tweaks it he may be a real contender next year.

End of an era:  No more awesome Weapons of Medieval Destruction

I first met Nick Helms, builder of Weapons of Medieval Destruction, in 2010 at the second festival when he showed up in chain mail with his huge over-height, overweight trebuchet.  The next year, in the pouring rain, his whipper design threw 519 feet (adjusted due to penalties to 354).  He knew his machine was way over-height and overweight, but didn't care about the penalty, or competing, he just wanted to inspire other people to build cool throwing machines.  He is retiring his whipper and vows to return in 2017 with a torsion catapult.

Trophy and cash winners in the trebuchet contest:

Lightweight Division (age 10 and under, trebuchet limited to 20 lbs. and 41”)
  • 1st place trophy plus $50 cash: Emmerson Stapleton, (Destroyer)
  • 2nd place trophy: Teresa (TPS Chuckers 2)
  • 3rd place trophy: Gustav (Whipper Snapper)

Middleweight Junior Division (age 17 and under, trebuchet limited to 100 lbs. and 70”)
  • 1st place trophy plus $50 cash:  Pack 607, Tom Knight (Elastic X)
  • 2nd place trophy: Steven McCann (Max Distance)

Middleweight Open Division: (any age, trebuchet limited to 100 lbs. and 70”)
  • 1st place trophy plus $50 cash: Don Jordan (Team Jordan)
  • 2nd place trophy: Ed Chamberlin (Ooh-raw)
  • 3rd place trophy: Ray Chamberlin (Queen Christine III)

Heavyweight Division: (any age, trebuchet limited to 500 lbs. and 120”)

  • 1st place trophy plus $50 cash: Dave Jordan (Bad Boomer)
  • 2nd place trophy: Chris McGrody (Hammer of the Gourds)
  • 3rd place trophy: Jonathan Stapleton (The Stick)

Grand Prize Best Design trophy plus $50 cash: Dave Jordan (Bad Boomer)

Scaling, height, weight limitations and penalties:

I often get asked why the scaling, height and weight limitations and penalties are so complicated.  The answer is, they need to be that complicated to make it fair for all competitors.  If a trebuchet design is made twice as tall, it will throw twice as far.  This allows us to directly compare the design of a lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight by scaling up the smaller trebuchets so they compete on equal footing with the heavyweights.  By comparing their relative heights, the magic number is roughly 2.9 for the lightweight and 1.7 for the middleweights.  For example, Emmerson actually threw 200 feet, but because her trebucheet is a lightweight, it is scaled up to 590 feet.  This is how we select the Best Design Grand Prize.  The four winners of each division are scaled up to Heavyweight size.  The Lightweight winner is scaled up by 2.9, both Middlweight winners are scaled up by 1.71 and the Heavyweight winner is not scaled.  The best “scaled” distance wins the Grand Prize.  So far it has gone to the Heavyweights 3 times and to the Middlweight Open 5 times. 

A trebuchet must be powered only by gravity, so by limiting the height and weight, we ensure each competitor starts with the same amount of energy.  If they choose to make their frame very light, they can use more weight in the counterweight, at the risk of breaking something.  It takes more energy to throw a heavier pumpkin, so the pumpkins must be at, or over, the specified weight to be legal.

If a trebuchet is over-height or over-weight, we don't kick them out of the festival; we allow them to compete with a penalty roughly proportional to how much they are out of spec.  The penalty isn't really so much a penalty as a proportional offset to correct for the weight or height advantage beyond the “legal” limits. 

The following summary of each division will show the adjusted distance, after scaling up including any penalty.  If you want the actual distance, just divide by the appropriate scaling.

Summary of all competitors (all distances adjusted and scaled up to Heavyweight)

Lightweight Division: (scaling 2.9268)
  • 1st place: Emmerson Stapleton (Destroyer), 590 feet
  • 2nd place: Teresa (TPS Chuckers 2), 209 feet
  • 3rd place: Gustav (Whippersnapper) 137 feet
  • 4th place: Owen, (Tomato Tosser), 104 feet
  • 5th place: Teresa (TPS Chuckers 1), 92 feet
  • 6th place: Will Johnson, 80 feet

Middleweight Junior Division: (scaling 1.7142)
  • 1st place: Pack 607, Tom Knight, (Elastic X)
  • 2nd place: Steven McCann, (Max Distance), 93 feet

Middleweight Open Division: (scaling 1.7142)
  • 1st place: Don Jordan (Team Jordan), 489 feet
  • 2nd place: Ed Chamberlin (Ooh-rah), 422 feet
  • 3rd place: Ray Chamberlin (Queen Christine III), 393 feet
  • 4th place: Bill Wooden (Green Monster), 352 feet
  • 5th place: Ryan Brown (Redneck Wreckers), 281 feet
  • 6th place: Bob Olesen, (Wheel of Fortune), 235 feet

Heavyweight Division: (no scaling)
  • 1st place: Dave Jordan (Bad Boomer), 689 feet
  • 2nd place: Chris McGrody (Hammer of the Gourds), 483 feet
  • 3rd place: Jonathan Stapleton, (The Stick), 475 feet
  • 4th place: Nick Helms, Weapons of Medieval Destruction, 265 feet

Chili Cook Off champions:

The chili cook off was a great success with seven competitors and running out of chili before the end of the festival.  Thanks for Keith Thompson for stepping in and running the show.  Here are the winners:
  • First place trophy and $100 cash: Ken Wasserman (Make Chili Great Again)
  • 2nd place trophy and $50 cash: Al Spitzer
  • 3rd place trophy and $25 cash: (Smokers of the Lost Pork)

Thanks to our main sponsor, Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa for letting us use their beautiful field for free, as well as all the other sponsors: Stowe Country Club, The Alchemist, Concept 2, Community National Bank, Laraway Youth and Family Services, Smugglers Notch, Stackpole and French, Hoagies, Clear Water Filtration, BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont, Donald P. Blake, Jr. Inc., H.A. Manosh, Union Bank, Aubuchon Hardware, The MSI Group, Stowe Soaring, Stowe UPS, Stowe Motel, McCain Consulting, Umiak Outfitters, Trattoria La Festa, Thompson's Flour Shop, PP&D.

Special thanks to Duffy and Dan McLaughlin for setup and take down, to John Prittie to helping repair my trebuchet and help Team Jordan fire their winning throw, To Bruce Wallace and his family for being the Master of Ceremonies and helping for the last 7 years, to Mike Gladu, Nick Pizzutti and Alyssa for recording keeping and calculating the winners, to Gunner McCain for quick, cheery distance readings, to Mike Dunn for excellent sound system and House Dunn and Jen and John for great music, to Bob Gross and Russell Baum for helping out with safety and setup for the last 8 years, to Jon Halfcarhalftruck and Aaron Fourier for running the volleyball challenge, even though nobody challenged them, the volleyball court was busy all day.

We look forward to our next festival, the 9th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festial on Sept. 24th, 2017 at the Stoweflake Resort.

Dave Jordan
Festival organizer
161 Henway Road
Morrisville, VT  05661

Winning Trebuchet, Bad Boomer, courtesy Eliza Larson (@WCAX_Eliza):

Eliza Larson / WCAX:
Pumpkin Chuckers descend on Stowe for annual event --
If you're looking for a new spectator sport, try Pumpkin Chucking. That's what hundreds of people did Sunday in Stowe. 
Wood, metal, or rope -- whatever it takes to chuck a pumpkin the farthest.
"It's not really about the pumpkins. I don't really have a grudge against pumpkins," said Dave Jordan, who started the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' festival eight years ago...
Caleigh Cross /
Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival: good, messy fun --
These days, the Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival is good fun for the whole family, even those who aren’t chuckin’. A grand prize is given for best design, which could give nods to helping hands — and add another $50 and first choice of prizes provided by local sponsors to the winning haul. The event also features a volleyball competition, balloon animals, face painting, wine and beer tents, live music and a chili cook-off, a free competition that invites master chili chefs across the county to clash over crock pots for the chance to win a cash prize...

Thank you Pumpkin Chuckin' Fans

Hi Pumpkin People,

Thank you to all of you for making the 8th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Festival a smashing success,

We' re still tying up loose ends and dealing with our day jobs, but we will have the final results posted ASAP.

We are also trying to finalize the accounting so so we can report how much money was made for the charity. But in the meantime, we would like to make a request to have team "Max Distance" contact Dave Jordan (603-630-4800, email:

Steven McCann, is the captain of team “Max Distance”. They won 2nd place in the Middleweight Junior Division, but did not collect their trophy and prize. The first place team could not use the canoe trip for two so they gave it to Max Distance, if they want it.

If Dave can get their address, he will mail the trophy and prize to them.

Thanks again everyone.