Thursday, September 3, 2009

Announcement: First Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival & Contest

Cambridge Area Rotary presents the first annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

Updates: It's here. Happy hurling at the VTPC.

Good news! We now have a real battle in the Battle of the Bands, "Stonecutters", a local rock band out of the Morrisville area has just joined the battle. So far, it is "Honeybee" (soft rock) against "Stonecutters" (rock) squaring off around 11:30am. We've love to have more bands enter. Only $5 gets you into the battle and all the Pumpkin Chuckin events! Walkons welcome!

The featured bands, "Wilbur's Dog" and the "Hubcats" will be playing in the afternoon.

Also we just got another entry in the heavyweight division bringing out total to three heavyweight trebuchets!

Exciting news! We have a local genius James Spanier who built a huge trebuchet for the "Throw for Show" category and also a local 2 family contingent building a slingshot for the same division. I can hardly wait to see them in action!

Timing: I've moved the schedule up a little (check schedule below) to accomodate people who might want to get home early on a Sunday night. Battle of the Bands starts at 11:30 and first round of competition starts at 12:30, with the last round and free-for-all around 3:00pm.

drawing of a trebuchetVision: We want to hold a fun trebuchet (rhymes with yesterday) hurling contest to raise money for the Lamoille Family Center in Morrisville, VT. The competitive hurling is limited to 4 main divisions. Each division will compete on distance.

Other trebuchets, or catapults, or air cannons are encouraged to come and "throw for show" along with the other contestants, but if they do not meet the division specs., they will not be part of the official competition.

  • Bantamweight Division: Age 10 and below
    Max. total weight of trebuchet is 4 lbs.
    Max height = 24"
    Projectile = 3/5 ounce (or 16.8 grams)

  • Lightweight Division: Age 10 and below
    Max. total weight of trebuchet is 20 lbs.
    Max height = 41"
    projectile = 3 ounce tomato

  • Middleweight Division: Age 17 and below
    Max. total weight of trebuchet is 100 lbs.
    Max. height = 70"
    projectile = 1 pound pumpkin

  • Heavyweight Division: Open to all ages
    Max. total weight of trebuchet is 500 lbs.
    Max. height is 10 feet
    projectile = 5 pound pumpkin

To sign up for the trebuchet contest: Contact Dave Jordan via email or phone (below). Cost is $5. The entry allows only the captain to get in free. All others on the team pay $5, or $3, if they are 18 or under. All competitors and team members will sign a waiver provided the day of the competition.

To enter send a check or cash to:

Dave Jordan
161 Henway Road
Morrisville, VT 05661
Please include:
Name of captain
Team members (up to 8)
Representing (school, cub scouts, boy scouts, girl scouts, university, etc) (Optional)
Division (bantamweight, lightweight, middleweight, heavyweight)
Name of your Trebuchet (optional)
Email (optional)
Phone number (optional)
Plus Music and Battle of the Bands:

Also associated with the contest will be music provided by three local bands and a separate, earlier Battle of the Bands contest. Winner of the Battle of the Bands will be selected by the two judges from the "Hubcats". This Battle is sponsored by the Bee's Knees in Morrisville so the first prize will be a $45 gift certificate to the Bee's Knees. Limited to first 10 bands that sign up. Time slots will be awarded in reverse order to when entry is received. The first band gets the latest time slot (12:10 to 12:30pm) and so on.

To sign up for battle of the bands: Contact Dave Jordan via email or phone below. Cost is $5. The entry allows one person in the band in for free. All others pay $5 or $3 if they are 18 or under.

Bands must bring their own drums. An eight channel PA will be provided with a sound man (Mike Dunn, of Wilbur's Dog). If you have any questions regarding sound equipment, please contact Mike directly at

To enter send check or cash to:
Dave Jordan
161 Henway Road
Morrisville, VT 05661
Please Include:
Main contact
Band name
Type of music (optional)
Email (optional)
phone number (optional)
Music will be provided by:

  • Wilbur's Dog (progressive rock) - 3:00pm to dark
  • Hubcats (bluegrass/folk) - 2:00pm

Hurling goes on rain or shine. Music will be under a pavillion.

Other Activities:
  • Play against Boomer the amazing tennis robot (see
  • Volleyball
  • Vegetable slinging: Slingers provided! Just for fun, distance and hitting targets, if enough interest we may add another category for slinging.
  • Corn maze: Small fee ($5 for adults, $3 for kids, free for under 2)
  • Horseshoes
  • Croquet (if we can find someone with a set)
  • Bocce ball (if we can find someone with a set)
  • Food provided by local vendors
  • Picnic: People are welcome to bring their own picnic
Family friendly event! NO alcohol or BYOB on farm property!
  • $5 for adults
  • $3 for ages 18 and under

Boyden Farm
44 Vermont Route 104
Cambridge, VT 05444
Sunday, Oct. 4th, 2009, 11:30am to dark
Who can participate in the Pumpkin Chuckin' Contest?

Open to anyone to compete. One person or a team of up to 8 people. We are hoping to get kids of all ages, cub scouts, boy scouts, brownies, girl scouts, universities, companies, etc.

In the bantamweight, lightweight and middleweight divisions, older people may suggest ideas but the trebuchet must be built by the team or individual.

Similar to the Soap Box Derby; moms and dads can help with suggestions, but not actually work on the trebuchet.
Schedule of activities on Sunday, October 4th:
(These are approximate times. This is contingent upon the number of entries in the trebuchet contest and Battle of the Bands. If there are a small number of competitors, times will be moved up)

9am to 12:30pm: Assembly, safety inspection, weighing, measuring, testing and tweaking of trebuchets

11:30am to 12:30pm: Battle of the Bands (only 2 bands so far, this time could change)

12:30pm: Round one: First shot of trebuchets

1:30pm: Round two: Second shot of trebuchets

2:00pm: Hubcats (bluegrass/folk)

2:30: Round three: Third shot of trebuchets

3pm to dusk: Awards followed by free-for-all hurling, cleanup and music by Wilbur's Dog (progressive rock)

SAFETY: All trebuchets must have a safety device (like a C-clamp) to stop the throwing arm from firing prematurely during loading of the projectile. Another excellent safety device is a support which can be placed directly under the counterweight, preventing it from falling.

Once the counterweight is lifted, the trebuchet is dangerous (even the small ones). Be careful not to put hands, feet or any body part in the potential path of the throwing arm or counterweight. Put the safety on immediately after the counterweight is lifted (before loading the sling, etc)!

All trebuchets will be inspected before firing and must pass the inspection to fire.
Total weight of trebuchet including counterweight (not including projectile) may not exceed limit. See table above for weight limits for 4 divisions.

Height of trebuchet including throwing arm fully extended (the un-cocked height, straight up in the air) may not exceed limit. The sling is not included in the height limit, so the sling may exceed the limit.

No digging into the ground is allowed (like a pit for the counterweight to fall further). You may use the ground to stake the trebuchet to prevent rocking.
BYOP: Bring your own pumpkin (or tomato, or whatever you want to hurl). We may have some rotten vegetables donated or for sale on site, but there is no guarantee. We suggest you have 3 prime pumpkins at exactly the right weight for the contest, and several other for practice and free-for-all at the end. Water balloons are an easy projectile. Be sure the projectile is AT LEAST the required weight.

Projectile must weigh at least the limit or more. Bantamweight = 3/5 ounces, Lightweight = 3 ounces, Middleweight = 1 pound, Heavyweight = 5 pounds.

Judges will weigh trebuchet and projectile and measure height before firing. Total weight of the trebuchet (including counterweight) must be UNDER the limit. Weight of projectile must be OVER the limit. Height must be UNDER the limit. No part of the trebuchet may go over the limit during firing, except the sling.

Competition: The competition is similar to a shotput where all the contestants fire their weapon, one at a time, each is spotted for distance from the center of the front of the trebuchet. The bantamweight competitors will be scaled up by 5, lightweight competitors will be scaled up by 2.93 to reflect the distance they would throw if they were 10 feet tall. The middleweight competitors will be scaled up by 1.71. We plan to announce the name, weight, height of each trebuchet and team members before asking them, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please fire your weapon!"

Just to be clear, the distance is measured from the center of the front of the trebuchet.

There will be 3 rounds with a pause (roughly 30 minutes) between rounds for tweaking, etc. At the end of the third shot, we will announce the awards, then start the free-for-all hurling for fun.

Reason for limits: The weight and size of the trebuchet is limited (given the short time to the festival) to allow teams to more easily assemble and transport their trebuchets to the contest.

Scaling: Trebuchets "scale" very well. All things being equal, a trebuchet that is twice as big will throw twice as far. However, it will weight 8 times more and throw a projectile that weighs eights times more. The reason is that something twice as big, is twice as wide and twice as deep so the volume and weight increase by a factor of eight.

With this in mind, each division is 5 times heavier than the division below it. Doing the math, this scales to 1.71 taller (cube root of 5). So each division is 1.71 times taller than the division below it so they can be compared against each other to award an overall "Best Design" prize. The bantamweight division will be multiplied by 5.000. The lightweight division distance will be multiplied by 2.924 and the middleweight division will be multiplied by 1.71 to accurately compare against the heavyweight division. For example, if a lightweight trebuchet throws 50 feet and a heavyweight trebuchet throws 145 feet, the lightweight trebuchet is scaled up to 146 (50*2.924) feet which beats the heavyweight trebuchet. This scaling will be used to award the overall "Best Design" prize. Each division will also have a best distance prize.

This gives a young kid a real chance to walk off with the most prestigious prize, no fancy metal working or wood working shop required, just brains and persistence.

Loading must be done totally with human power, no electrical or other assistance.

All trebuchets must be only gravity powered. No springs or pneumatics or other power sources.
Contest entry fees:
  • $5 for entry. Spectators and contestants and Battle of the Bands contestants all pay the same.
  • $3 for age 18 and under
Order of Prizes:

All winners will also receive a "Golden Pumpkin"
  • Overall Best Design = 1st pick of prizes donated by local sponsors
  • Bantamweight division (distance) = 2nd pick of prizes donated by local sponsors
  • Lightweight division (distance) = 3rd pick of prizes donated by local sponsors
  • Middleweight division (distance) = 4th pick of prizes donated by local sponsors
  • Heavyweight division (distance) = 5th pick of prizes donated by local sponsors
  • Best Pumpkin Chuckin Band = $45 gift certificate to Bee's Knees
Current list of prizes:
  • Glider ride for 2 by Stowe Soaring
  • Dinner for 2 by Trattoria La Festa in Stowe
  • $45 gift certificate at Bee's Knees in Morrisville (for winner of Battle of Bands)
  • Burton gear
  • Miller's Country Outfitters gear
  • Gift certificates from Hanley General Store in Jeffersonville
  • 5 lb of Neptune Harvest from Charlie at Brookfield Ag in Northfield
Remaining fees and donations (after expenses) goes to Lamoille Family Center.

Current Sponsors: Boyden Farm, Wilbur's Dog, Robot Optimizers, Hubcats, Trattoria La Festa, Foote Brook Farm, The Stowe UPS Store, Bee's Knees, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Hanley General Store, Brookfield Agriculture.

We are also looking for other sponsors to offer prizes and rotten (or otherwise) vegetables for hurling.

Contact: Dave Jordan (802) 888-2910

Current list of entries.

A Brief History of Pumpkin Chuckin'

The World Championship Punkin Chunkin Contest & Festival is held each year in Sussex County, Delaware and involves 17 categories of catapults, a beauty contest, road races, carnival and lots of music. The first one was in 1986.

Other states hold their own Pumpkin Chuckin' contests. Ludlow, Vermont holds a Zukapult contest to fling zuccinni. As far as we know, this would be the first (and long overdue) Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Contest.

see Wikipedia: Pumpkin Chunking

What is a Trebuchet?

A trebuchet is an ancient siege engine used to overpower a castle in medieval times. It was the nuclear weapon of its day from the 4th century to the 14th century. It is a huge, gravity powered catapult with a sling attached used to fling boulders, cows, or people into and at the castle.

In modern times they are used to hurl pumpkins for distance and accuracy.

large trebuchet

How to Build A Trebuchet

For instructions on how to build a trebuchet and more details see or any number of websites dealing with trebuchets and pumpkin chuckin' contests.

For example, here are plans for a tennis ball trebuchet. This is a 30 inch (axle height) Trebuchet and it is a working model suitable for learning the fundamentals of Hinged Counter Weight Trebuchet. The base is 34 inches long and 31 inches wide, making it suitable for many projects that are restricted to 1 meter dimensions.

Tennis Ball Trebuchet

Axles and Counter Weights (CW's)

Here is information about:
  • FAT/F2K Trigger, the basic concept.
  • Phssthpok's Rule, concerning how much CW to use.
  • Parachutes to avoid head dings.
  • Wheels and Trebuchets.
  • Bracing an Axle.
  • Pouch Roll, why sling anchor position is important.
  • Taught Line Hitch
Here are some do-it-yourself projects from on how to build a Trebuchet.

Motivation for the VT Pumpkin Chuckin' Contest

Founders on for trebuchet contest: I saw a trebuchet off exit 9 on I-89 at Middlesex Farm. I asked them about it and they said they planned to have a little fun at the end of the season and a local store saw them and wanted to build their own trebuchet to compete. I started thinking wouldn't it be fun to make my own trebuchet and compete as well. Then I thought it would be more fun to have a big contest with all different sizes of machines.

The trebuchet is a very simple, elegant device. It is just a lopsided teeter-totter with a fat kid (I'm not fat, I'm big boned!) on the short end and a pumpkin on the long end. The fat kid sits down and the pumpkin goes flying. Despite being a simple device, it is far from simple to perfect. There are at least 5 critical items that can be tweaked and many designs to be tried.

My hope is that good sportsmanship will be what this competition is all about. It isn't about who has the best trebuchet; it is about the beauty of the hurl itself, and the ability of design to let us surpass our physical limitations and make that pumpkin fly.

To throw is great, to hurl divine.

That would make a great t-shirt.

List of Entries in the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

Current list of trebuchets entered in 2009 tournament:
1. Captain: Dave Jordan
Team members: Melissa Jordan
Representing: Robot Optimizers Incorporated
Division: Heavyweight
Name of Trebuchet: Bad Boomer

2. Captain: Michael Wallace
Team members: Wallace family
Representing: Connecticut
Division: Middleweight
Name of Trebuchet: Pumpkin Chuckin Airlines
Adult advisor(s): Bruce Wallace, Joyce Wallace

3. Captain: Rogers family
Team members: unknown
Representing: Jeffersonville, VT
Division: Throw for show
Name of Slingshot: Unknown
Adult advisor: Annie

4. Captain: Roger Allen
Team members: Troop 39 Boy Scouts
Representing: Troop 39 Boy Scouts
Division: Middleweight
Name of trebuchet: T-Rex
Adult Advisor: Roger Allen

5. Representing: Enosburg Falls High School Physics
Division: Heavyweight
Name of Trebuchet: Moofasa
Adult advisor: Ryan Bushey

6. Captain: Unknown
Team members: Unknown
Representing: Cub Scout Troop #839 of Cambridge
Division: Lightweight
Name of Trebuchet: Giantslayer
Adult Advisor: Tom Cook

7. Captain: Dave Barrows
Team members: Unknown
Representing: Morrisville/Stowe
Name of Trebuchet: Unknown

8. Captain: James Spanier
Team members: Unknown
Representing: Cambridge?
Name of Trebuchet: Unknown (May I suggest the Spanier Slinger?)

Current list of bands entered in battle-of-bands tournament: (Time slots are awarded in reverse order to when entry is received, the earlier the band enters, the later it plays)

1. Main contact: Dave Jordan
Band name: Honeybee
Type of music: soft rock
Time slot: 12:10 to 12:30

2. Main contact: Ian Robertson
Band name: Stonecutters
Type of music: Rock
Time slot: 11:30 to 12:10