Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Watch some massive pumpkins getting dropped is a great way to ring in 2012.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pumpkins with Personality

These are some extremely impressive pumpkin carvings by Ray Villafane. Checkout the rest of his work here at Is this proof that every pumpkin really does have a personality?

Ray Villafane: Pumpkin Carving --
Using only common clay carving tools to sculpt his pumpkins, Villafane explains his artistic method: “Not all pumpkins will look good and the most important thing about a pumpkin is its weight. You need to pick the meatiest pumpkin….I also like a pumpkin with character. One with nobly ridges is good, so that I can utilize that in the carving procedure, like with sculpting noses.

Villafane’s hobby of pumpkin sculpting was brought to a new level in 2007 when he was contacted by High Noon Entertainment and asked to participate in the Food Network’s Challenge Show, Outrageous Pumpkins. He competed as one of four professional pumpkin sculptors, impressed the judges enough to sweep all three rounds and was awarded the Grand Prize. Outrageous Pumpkins logged the highest ratings of any other Challenge episode, and a second invitation was extended to Ray in 2009. They wanted him to come back and defend his title in their Outrageous Pumpkins Challenge II. Ray defended his 2008 title and took home the 2010 Grand Prize from the Food Network’s Pumpkin Challenge II. The exposure of Ray’s style, talent and creativity amassed an all-new appreciation for pumpkin “carving”, and his artistic take on the traditional jack-o-lantern has granted him invitations from across the globe for VIP Galleries (Very Impressive Pumpkins). From the President’s Quarters in the White House to Bermuda’s Sousa’s Gardens, Ray’s pumpkins have gathered a cult-like following.
via Barry Ritholtz

Monday, November 7, 2011

Punkin Chunkin Wrap Party

Here is a round-up of some more stories and images from the World Championship Punkin Chunkin in Bridgeville, Delaware.
Punkin Chunkin: Unofficials results show top launch short of record --
As many as 50,000 people may have attended this year's 26th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin competition that ended Sunday at Wheatley Farm near Bridgeville after three days of competition, officials said.

Unofficial results reported by the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association showed the top distance of 3,699.27 feet, scored by "Big 10 Inch" in the adult air category...

The event was hosted by Mythbusters and will be aired on the Discovery Channel in a three-hour program Nov. 24th [Thanksgiving]...

Punkin Chunkin draws large crowd
'This place is a hoot' -- Punkin Chunkin draws huge crowd for day full of fun --
Although Jean Nixon had heard of the World Punkin Chunkin Championships and had seen excerpts of it on television, she didn't really know what to expect from the event.

The Sterling, Va., resident had a chance to experience it in all of its splendor as she was invited to the three-day event by her friends, with whom she was staying in town.

"I'm fascinated, it's amazing," she said. "The crowd is so interesting and the machines, I just can't stop looking at the fancy machines and all the work gone into throwing pumpkins."...
High-flyin' fun at Punkin Chunkin -- Revelers rejoice on final day of Punkin Chunkin
Blue skies and low winds offered favorable conditions for the final day of the 26th annual World Punkin Chunkin Championships.

Towering air cannons ejected the squash with violent blasts of air, sometimes nearly vaporizing them in an explosion chunkers affectionately call "pumpkin pie." With the farthest-flung landing gourds more than 4,000 feet away from the launch point, the event has come a long way from its beginning in the mid-'80s, when 200 feet was a respectable goal.

Dawn Thompson's husband, Bill, basically started the event with a group of friends in their backyard...

Missed this earlier note from WCPC competitor -
Jeff DelPapa / Tool wielding ape, Card carrying NERD:
Day 1 Summary --
Pumpkins this year are of very poor quality. They aren't as dense as past years, and even normally tough varieties are not up to the stresses of launching. Almost every Trebuchet pied their shot today, including the new version of Yankee Siege, and last years Tired Iron. The very elegant appearing Merlin managed to break its throwing arm (a regular occurrence for them, they bring spares), and Pumpkin Hammer (last years winner) had a jam involving their trigger, and had to go thru a lot of gymnastics in order to get their shot off...
Punkin Chunkin Pageant:
Congratulations to everyone that participated in the Punkin Chunkin Pageant --

Flickr photostream:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Punkin Chunkin Photos

Here are some photos from the just completed 2011 World Championship Punkin Chunkin in Delaware. It looks like some folks get a little crazy about their pumpkins.

There was a mad punkin chunker named Wayne,
Who doused his pumpkins with butane,
He ignited them with glee,
All the spectators did flee,
Sadly the poor lunatic was consumed by flame.
photos via Punkin Chunkin Facebook
Kari Byron, Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci from Mythbusters and the Governor of Delaware Jack Markell at the opening ceremonies of the 26th annual Punkin Chunkin Event.
The Punkin Chunkin safety guy was BUSY all day! He made sure that nobody was behind each of the machines as they launched. The pumpkins could have gone backwards, and his job to was ensure you weren't in the line of possible backfire. Thanks safety guy!!!

photos via Flickr
No, this is not an air cannon. It is a Science Channel boom camera.

Jeff DelPapa / Tool wielding ape, Card carrying NERD:
The folks from Science channel were collecting a bunch of B roll, watching as the various teams assembled their machines. They had a very long (75 feet perhaps) counter-weighted camera boom, that they use to get overhead views of the machines and firing line. As a result, they are collecting a lot of ribbing from the catapult teams. the contraption looks a whole lot like the throwing arms on various machines, and merely needs a bit more counterweight, and a sling to qualify for the Trebuchet class. (they were also "warned" to keep an eye on it at night, lest they find it scrounged by some team to make a last minute extension for, or emergency repair to their throwing arm.)
Who knew that the Punkin Chunkin field was an annex of Area 51.

This is where it begins: Mini Trebuchet. PunkinChunkin 2012 anyone??

Those aren't cranes in the background. They're AIR CANNONS.

photos via Grant Imahara / Twitter
Tory Belleci / Twitter:
This place is insane. It's like The Guns of Navarone out here.
This is what science looks like at #PunkinChunkin

photos via Kari Byron / Twitter

Where else do you get to meet a guy like Fat Jimmy? #PunkinChunkin

Friday, November 4, 2011

World Championship Punkin Chunkin Has Started

The World Championship Punkin Chuckin has started today in Bridgeville, Delaware. Here is a round-up of some of the news coming out of the event, which runs until Sunday, Nov. 6th.
PUNKIN CHUNKIN 2011 to Be Hosted by MYTHBUSTERS Kari Byron, Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci --

MYTHBUSTERS: Kari Byron, Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci
-- Pumpkins Take To The Skies in the 2011 Discovery Channel / SCIENCE Simulcast of PUNKIN CHUNKIN Thanksgiving Night, November 24, at 8:00PM (ET/PT)--

Pumpkins become projectiles once again with the return of PUNKIN CHUNKIN, the annual special that's becoming as much as part of Thanksgiving tradition as turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. The thrilling competition where "man meets machine meets mayhem" prepares for launch on Thanksgiving night, Thursday, November 24 at 8:00 PM (ET/PT) as a simulcast on Discovery Channel and SCIENCE.

For those unfamiliar, PUNKIN CHUNKIN is an annual extravaganza where teams (and more than 30 thousand fans) gather in a Delaware cornfield to see whose homemade contraption can propel a pumpkin the farthest. This year's event takes viewers behind the firing line, getting up close and personal with the explosive contraptions and personalities that make PUNKIN CHUNKIN define "gourd glory." No strangers to explosions of all sorts, MYTHBUSTERS' Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, and Tory Belleci join as hosts of PUNKIN CHUNKIN, going inside the madness to uncover the singular subcultures of these passionate participants. Now in its 26th year of competition, PUNKIN CHUNKIN has become a pop culture phenomenon, inspiring countless backyard warriors looking to recreate the wacky rituals that make up this autumnal event.

"It's the enthusiasm and fearless imaginations of these crazy geniuses that make 'The Chunk' an American tradition and a Thanksgiving mainstay," said Debbie Myers, General Manager and Executive Vice President for SCIENCE. "The competition embodies the spirit of SCIENCE like no other, and we're proud to showcase PUNKIN CHUNKIN as our premiere annual SCI SPORTS event."...

Kari, Grant and Tory Get Chunked

Punkin Chunkin spokesman Frank Shade gabs about gourds --
Q What do you attribute its recent popularity?
A I think the biggest thing that happened was about 12 or 13 years ago the event was really, really declining in attendance. A couple of us got together and said, “What can we do to make it better?” We started getting the word out that there’s things to do at the Chunk. We took a machine to the David Letterman show, we took a machine into New York City and threw a pumpkin on the side of the Ed Sullivan Theater. Letterman never stepped foot outside and saw us, but people outside of Sussex County saw it. Then some boys in Morton, Ill., got to know about it and that’s the pumpkin capital of the world, where they can all the pumpkin for Libby’s. Some of the guys in a mechanical shop built one of the first major air cannons and brought it here to compete and promptly kicked our butts. They were having an event out there and in the pumpkin capital it was only drawing 100 people or so. We took five of our machines out there and turned their event into a two-day event and brought thousands. Then they came back and brought busloads.
Then ESPN said they heard about some lunatics out there in Delaware and brought out a news crew. The more people heard about it, it just grew exponentially. We saw crowds going from 3,000 to 4,000 people to last year we had over 100,000 people at the event. And we’re anticipating a 15 to 20 percent increase this year...
A lifetime of Chunkin history -- Since he was 9, Jake Burton has honed his pumpkin-launching skills
When Jake Burton began participating in the World Championship Punkin Chunkin events as a teenager, he was seen as a Punkin Chunkin prodigy.

As a 9-year-old, the Milton resident and current record holder for the youth and adult air cannon categories was already adept at welding and other mechanical skills.

Now a grizzled veteran at age 24, Burton is armed with his knowledge of engineering as he and his team, Young Glory III, participate in their 10th Punkin Chunkin. They've practiced since late summer...
Beth Stackpole / Design News:
Catapult Competition Chunks Old Punkins --
A contingent of engineers and hobbyists has big plans for all those extra pumpkins that didn't find a home on Halloween. On the first weekend in November, dozens of teams are convening in Bridgeville, Del., for the annual World Championship Punkin' Chunkin', an event that puts medieval machines like catapults and trebuchets to the test to see how far that can huck a pumpkin.

A team of engineers at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, led by David Mollenhauer, senior materials engineer at the base, takes the sport pretty seriously. Called Team ETHOS, the crew has been at its quest for six years now, having nabbed first prize in the 2009 Adult Torsion Catapult category of the competition with its Phoenix catapult, which that year pulled off a pumpkin hurl of 2,088 feet...
But, there was also some bad news coming out of the Punkin Chunkin.

Jeremy Tucker /
Theft of Equipment at Punkin Chunkin --
BRIDGEVILLE, Del.- Organizers of Punkin Chunkin said they nearly had to cancel the event after tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment was stolen from the Bridgeville farm where the event is held.

Police said someone stole more than $33,000 worth of fence posts and electronic equipment from the farm.

Organizer Frank Shade said the event was placed in jeopardy.

"Without the boundaries we couldn't have put the event on. Without the electric we could not have had entertainment on the stage, ice machines, the PA system and so on. This is all the necessary equipment just to produce the event," Shade said.

National organizations and a local electric company have pitched in. They found replacement posts for the 12 miles of fencing at Punkin Chunkin...
The Science Channel is also running a triva contest for Punkin Chunkin on Twitter. We are following them on Twitter so we have shot at the contest. Check out the rules and follow @ScienceChannel with hash tag #PunkinChuckin on Twitter:

CONTEST ENTRY DETAILS: To enter the contest, visit (the "Website"). At one (1) random time each weekday (Tuesday-Saturday, November 1-5) during the Contest Period, we will post a "Punkin Chunkin" trivia question. The first four (4) eligible people to reply to the @ScienceChannel Twitter account with the hash tag #PunkinChunkin and the correct answer will win a Grand Prize. In order to reply, the entrant must be a follower of the Science Channel Twitter Page and include the "@Science Channel" and "#PunkinChunkin" address in their response.

New Looks for Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival blog

The nice folks at Blogger, which is part of Google, send out an email this morning telling us that we now had a bunch of new ways for people to look at our VT Pumpkin Chuckin' blog:
Hello Bloggers!

Introducing Dynamic Views: a one-of-a-kind browsing experience that will inspire readers to explore your blog in new ways and make it easier and more interactive to discover your posts.

Choose from one of seven elegant, interactive new layouts to share your blog with the world. With features like infinite scrolling, images that load as readers browse, lightbox style posts for easy viewing, and keyboard shortcuts for quickly flipping through posts, your readers will enjoy your blog in brand new ways.
Some of these views are pretty neat, the only problem appears to be that we lose the display of the information on our right sidebar if we make one of these other "views" our default look. So we will probably stay with the so called "classic" look for now. But, please check out the new features.

Other views:
Wow, can you believe there are only 11 months until the next Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival. The big World Championship Punkin Chunkin in Delaware is starting today. We will be following their great event and hope to post some photos and info.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Champs

Here is an interesting article about the SUNY Plattsburgh team, our Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Champions, from this year's festival:

Members of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh Physics Club at the annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival in Cambridge, Vt., weigh their pumpkin for the Open Middleweight competition.

Jeremiah S. Papineau (October 6, 2011) /
Plattsburgh State students take home gold for chuckin’ pumpkins --
Students from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh Physics Club came together last weekend for the annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival in Cambridge, Vt., putting their understanding of the laws of physics to practical use. Not only did they participate, but the students also set a record at event by launching a pumpkin more than 130 feet, landing them a first place win in their division and earning “an awesome trophy,” said Professor Ken Podolak...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Team Dante's Inferno

Here are few photos of the winning heavyweight trebuchet team, Dante's Inferno from Massachusetts. It is great that a team with their sportsmanship and competitive energy won the heavyweight competition. Plus, their monogrammed hoodies had a very nice design and added to the spirit of the festival. We hope they come back next year to defend their title.

Trebuchet team Dante's Inferno
Trebuchet team Dante's Inferno
Trebuchet team Dante's Inferno
The bottomline is they looked good and hurled great!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thank You Everyone for a Great 2011 VT Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival / Results

The last pumpkins have been hurled and the 3rd Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival is in the books.

We apologize for the delay in getting this posted. We would like to thank the following people for helping us put on a tremendous 3rd Annual Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival under difficult, wet conditions this year:
  • Mark Willis (did a great job as MC)
  • Mike Dunn (music and PA system)
  • John Smyth (music)
  • Mike Gladu (record keeping, he didn't even get a chance to eat he was so busy the whole festival)
  • Len Ambro (surveyor)
  • Mark and Laurie Boyden for the use of their farm and help organizing.
  • Lamoille Family Center for running the kids activities
  • Russell Baum for helping with running the festival
  • Bruce Wallace for helping with running the festival
  • Cambridge Rotary club for the food and parking, and helping get the word out

We would also like to thank all of our sponsors for the great T-shirts and their support of the festival, the Cambridge Area Rotary, and the Lamoille Family Center. Here is a list of our VTPC sponsors:
First, we would like to give special recognition to team Dante's Inferno. They were the first team to show up from Massachusetts. They were totally within the rules and they won the heavyweight competition on their first try! Plus, they brought a counter-weight full of energizing team spirit. Congratulations Dante's Inferno, great job.

Also, thank you Weapons Of Medieval Destruction 2.0 for having a truly amazing machine and throwing over 1.7 football fields. You were easily the show stopper, even though your machine was too heavy for the formal competition.

The Pumpkins Bane team also had an amazing machine, if not for Weapons of Medieval Destruction, you would have stolen the show, and you were only somewhat over the weight limit.

Again, thanks JJ Spanier, a truly powerful demonstration of sky bowling.

Thank you to all our competitors. We hope to see you all next year.
Here are the official results of the 2011 Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival trebuchet hurling contest:

All distances are in feet. Then for the lower divisions the actual distance of the throw is scaled up to the distance the trebuchet would have thrown if it were 10 feet tall (over 3 rounds). Lightweights are scaled up by 2.9 and middleweights are scaled up by 1.71.

Overall Winner / Best Design: SUNY Plattsburgh 223.33 feet (scaled)

Lightweight Division: ages 10 and under
Max. weight of trebuchet = 20 lbs.
max. height = 41"
Projectile weight: at least 3 ounces

First place: Super Stunners (Brian Jadus, Alex Jadus, Jeff Marvin and Kyle Marvin) Trebuchet: Vegetable Splatter

Actual distance: Round 1: 36.6 feet, Round 2: 43.5 feet, Round 3: 44.0 feet
Scaled distance: Rd 1: 106.87' , Rd 2: 127.02' , Rd 3: 128.5'

Second place: Terminator (Cambridge Cub Scouts)

Actual: 2.4', 33.7', 35.4'
Scaled: 70.08', 98.4', 103.37'
Middleweight Junior Division: Ages 17 and under
Max. weight = 100 lbs.
max. height = 70"
Projectile weight at least 1 lb.

First place: Pumpkin Chuckin Airlines (Daniel and Michael Wallace)

Actual: 108.2', 102', 75.9'
Scaled: 185.02', 174.42', 129.79'

Second place: Team Moving Forward (Annie Levine, Grady Ward)

Actual: 2.1', 0, 3.3'
Scaled: 3.59', 0, 5.64'
Middleweight Open Division: open to all ages
Max. weight = 100 lbs.
max height = 70"
Projectile weight = 1 lb.

1st place: SUNY Plattsburgh (Taylor Trombley, Jaime Smith, Randy Bissik, Carl Comstock, Tobey Bettbauger)

Actual: 95.5', 92.2', 130.6'
Scaled: 163.31', 157.66', 223.33'

Second place: Dead Weight (Brad Gustafson, Maever Gustafson, Evelyn Gustafson, Matt Gustafson, Christy Gustafson)

Actual: 52.6', 63.6', 84.3'
Scaled: 89.95', 108.76', 144.15'

Third place: Team Wagner (Sam Wagner, Amanda Wagner)

Actual: 31.6', 41.4', 57.1'
Scaled: 54.04', 70.79' , 97.64'

Fourth place: Looking for Satisfying Splat (Olivia Doty, John Doty, Jim Cobb, Charlie Cobb, Max Cobb, Liam Nelson, Megan Nelson, Rachel Bombardier)

Actual: 52.5', 47.3', 50'
Scaled: 87.38', 80.88', 85.5'

Fifth place: Team Jordan (Don Jordan, Chris Jordan, Johnnie Jordan)

Actual: 13.8', 5.9', 37.9'
Scaled: 23.6', 10.09', 64.81'

Sixth place: Tres Bucket (Cambridge Scouts)

Actual: 5.7', 30.4', 27.7'
Scaled: 9.75', 51.98', 47.37'

Seventh place: Cambridge Troop 39 (Zach Weston, Dakota Brousseau, Ryan Beauregard, Eric Engel)

Actual: 0, 6.2', 8.7'
Scaled: 0, 10.6', 14.88'
Heavyweight Division: open to all ages
Max weight = 500 lbs.
max height = 120"
projectile weight = 5 lbs.

First place: Dante's Inferno (Tim Brown, Ryan Brown, Kim Brown, Amanda Brown, Michelle Brown, Dan Brown)

Actual distances: Rd 1: 116.6' , Rd 2: 117.4' , Rd 3: 113.8'

Second place: Webelos Battery 2 (Pack 692)

Actual: 71.2', 85.8', 83.8'

Third place: Pumpkin's Bane (Chris McGrody, Doug North)

Overweight (not sure exactly what weight)

Distances: 281.1', 266.4', 256.8'
Best Distance: Weapons of Medieval Destruction 2.0 (Nick Helms, Bruce Penfield)

Throw for show: overweight and over height (not sure exactly what weight)

Distances: Rd 1: 0, Rd 2: 453.2', Rd 3: 519' (best recorded distance of the day)
We hope to have some video of the festival to post at a later date, and some news on the record attempt.

If you have any questions about the competition please contact the event organizer, Dave Jordan.

We hope to see you all back next year at the 4th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival, on Sunday, October 7th, 2012, at the Boyden Family Farm. Happy hurling everyone!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Alert: 3 Days Until Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

Time is getting short. There are only three days until the 3rd Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival gets underway at the Boyden Family Farm.

The gates open at 11:00 am for spectators and the first round of competitive hurling begins at 1:00 pm.  The music will start around noon, and there will be a kickoff introduction at 12:45 pm.
There once was a gent named Buford,
Who wanted to hurl some gourds.
He went to the farm,
Took his treb' with one arm,
And he did earn the top reward.
At the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival you will see pumpkins getting smashed, world records being established, and fun being had.

Everyone loves trebuchets, even the hillbillies and rednecks.

Rednecks setting up their trebuchet at Hillbilly Armageddon

National Geographic Channel:
Photo Gallery: Hillbilly Armageddon -- [You have to love their beer keg counter-weight]

National Geographic Channel:
Rocket City Rednecks -- New Series Premiered Wednesday, September 28 at 9P et/pt
We are taking the term ‘redneck’ back! There was a time when it referred to hardworking, self-sufficient farmers whose necks would sunburn while working in the fields. Those farmers had to be smart and had to solve problems with just what they had on hand. That is what a redneck is! Now we are bringing it back in fashion, so that being called ‘redneck’ ain't an insult! It's a compliment. Nothing says you can’t have a Ph.D. and also be a redneck!"
— Travis Taylor
A redneck review by Zap2it:
Big blowups in 'Rocket City' --
They may like a cold one, talk like Larry the Cable Guy and have a lot of buck trophies up on the wall, but the "Rocket City Rednecks" are steely-eyed missile men.

Airing Wednesdays on National Geographic Channel, the series profiles five self-proclaimed "rednecks" who live in the Huntsville, Ala., area, home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center...
Additionally, just in case you did not know it already, the trebuchet is also a beautiful demonstration of mathematics in motion.

The Algorithmic Beauty of the Trebuchet

Trebuchet Mechanics: The trebuchet, a medieval catapult driven by a falling, hinged counterweight, has been simulated to progressively more accurate approximations by successively more realistic physical models. The first of these, a "black box" model in which the mechanism for the transfer of potential energy to the counter-weight to the kinetic energy of the released projectile is left unspecified, led to a definition of a "Range Efficiency," Reff, equal to the measured range of the projectile divided by the range of the black box model, given by twice the ratio of the CW to projectile masses times the distance that the CW falls. This range efficiency can be used to compare actual trebuchets to simulated one's design "back of the envelope" trebuchets, and is useful in understanding the results of more sophisticated simulations....

Saturday, September 24, 2011

One Week 'til 3rd Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

The final countdown has begun. There is now only one week and some odd hours until the 3rd Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival gets underway on Sunday, October 2nd, 2011, at the Boyden Family Farm in Cambridge, VT.
Safety Reminder: Trebuchets are weapons

First, we want to remind all our competitors that safety is very important to us at the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival. If you watch the video in our previous post you will see that bad things do happen to trebuchets. Trebuchets are tricky beasts, and they can and will malfunction. Therefore, we want to remind all our competitors to help us keep you, your team, and the spectators all safe. Even the smaller trebuchets in our competition generate serious forces that can injure someone if they are in the wrong place.

Loading, cocking, and firing a trebuchet are all dangerous. Because trebs use heavy counterweights the loading and cocking is perhaps even more risky than the actual launching. So please ensure that you and your team are taking the appropriate precautions when loading your machine.

The rules allow winches or other electrical motors to cock a trebuchet. This is for safety reasons.  The winch or motor will not count towards the total weight.  If these devices are electrical they must be battery operated since there will be no access to AC power in the field.

Here is some excellent information from the website regarding trebuchets and their safety:
  • Your counterweight needs training. They know it's dangerous, and it makes them feel better.
  • Devise and use a `keeper line' for your sling. This keeps your counterweight from being whacked in the head.
  • Make sure draw-lines are affixed to the arm securely. If they fall off, the arm will konk someone on the head.
  • Advise your counterweight to not bend their arms. Use gravity instead. (It's more efficient and stronger.)
  • Make sure everyone on the counter weight team knows how to count to three.
Also this:
  • Counterweight should be created in manageable chunks. 400lb blocks seem cool, but are instead lame.
  • Never stand under the counterweight.
  • Never put body parts where the throwing arm wants to go.
  • Take advantage of all mechanical advantage available to modern hobbyists.
  • If nothing breaks, you don't have enough counterweight.

Trebuchets are ancient, but dangerous engines of war. Vermont pumpkins are starting to tremble.
Seige Engine - Juggernaut 2
While trebuchets are dangerous, we do not think they are as dangerous as some of the contraptions that travel to Delaware to compete at the World Championship Punkin Chunkin in November. For example, the centrifugal class machines are especially risky.

Note in the following video, of the Team TMC Inertia II centrifugal machine practice hurling a pumpkin, how they park a 16 ton dump truck with the bed raised, directly behind their machine. This is to ensure that any premature release of the pumpkin, or loss of the arm, does not shoot a projectile at very high speed into anyone standing behind the machine.

At the Delaware Punkin Chunkin championships spectators are not even permitted close to the competing machines. They also put up a safety screen behind some parts of the firing line to protect the spectators.

Since we operate on a much smaller scale at the Vermont Pumpkin Chuck we do not have to go to these lengths. However, we do want everyone to be safety conscious.
Safety nets at Punkin Chunkin

Firing line at Punkin Chunkin, one air cannon is firing at sunset

Crowd at Punkin Chunkin behind fence


So we will see you all in one week at the Boyden Family Farm. Be safe.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Trebuchet's Epic Fail

The Boomer Trebuchet suffered a severe failure during a recent test firing in preparation for the 3rd Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on Sunday, October 2nd, 2011. We sincerely hope that your trebuchet testing is going better than this.

Don't forget there are now only 16 days until VTPC.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

World Record Attempt and Great Music will be Highlights at 3rd Annual VTPC

Yes, as we wrote in our press release for the 3rd Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival, we will be attempting to establish a world record for the most pumpkins hurled in a mass volley by trebuchets.

We will be video recording our massive pumpkin barrage and submitting it to (formerly - Universal Record Database). RecordSetter has established themselves as the preeminent recorder of unique records. The following story from BusinessWeek tells of how RecordSetter/URDB is taking over the offbeat record business from stodgy old Guinness.

BusinessWeek / March 11, 2011:
Online Site URDB Takes on Guinness World Records -- 
Offbeat world records for everything from Most Giraffe Tattoos on a Shoulder to Most Bananas Fit Inside a Pair of Pants While Wearing Them are being created on

Guinness World Records does not a have a category for most giraffe tattoos on a shoulder. Instead, MacDonald and Fowler battled for the title through a website that's threatening to usurp the London-based behemoth's 56-year hegemony of the world-record industry: the Universal Record Database (, the superlative compendium of the Information Age. "Our spirit is pure democracy," says Dan Rollman, 37, the Canadian-born, Brooklyn-dwelling co-founder of the site. "We take the power of the Internet, democratize world records, and create an online space where anybody can set a new world record."...
A personal favorite record of ours is this one set by Cameron Diaz on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Show, Most Bunnies Snuggled With In A Hammock:
Cameron Diaz snuggled with 48 bunny rabbits in a hammock at one time, a new world record. Diaz got on a hammock, covered herself with a blanket and then had an animal wrangler place the bunnies upon her.

Diaz set the record on June 26, 2009 in New York City during the taping of a URDB segment on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Corey Henderson served as a witness and counted the bunnies.

Diaz's record of 48 bunnies was broken in July 2009 by Perth, Australia, DJ Nathan Morris, who got 50 bunnies in his hammock.
So we wanted to alert all you Pumpkin Chuckin' folks  that you will be a part of history on Sunday, October 2nd at the Boyden Family Farm. The farm is in Cambridge, at Vermont Routes 15 & 104, in the heart of the Green Mountains.

Admission to the festival will cost $5 for adults and $3 for ages 12 and under. The festival goes from from noon to 4pm, featuring 3 competitive firings at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm with awards shortly after. No dogs and no alcohol please. Parking is free. Food will be provided by the Rotary.

We also wanted to put out the word that even if your trebuchet does not meet our entry requirements for the competition you are invited to "throw for show" and be a part of our world record attempt. Please contact Dave Jordan, the organizer, and let him know that you are coming.
Great Music!

Also, don't forget we will also have some great music at our 3rd Annual VT Pumpkin Chuck. There will be three great performers: Mike Dunn, John Smyth, and the Honeybeez. They will be playing from 1pm to 4pm.

John Smyth

Great Prizes!

We will again have great prizes for the pumpkin chuckin' competition, provided courtesy of our fantastic Festival Sponsors:

Since 2009, the festival has been held to benefit the Lamoille Family Center in Morrisville, VT and the Cambridge Area Rotary Club.

So there is no reason on earth for you to miss this year's 3rd Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival. See you all there!

Friday, September 2, 2011

One Month Until 3rd Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

Get ready to lock and load your trebuchets. There is only one month remaining until our 3rd Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on October 2nd at the Boyden Family Farm.

We know everyone is itching to chuck some pumpkins and have some fun given this mess from Irene.
There was a fellow from Morrisville,
Who said all this rain was making him ill.
He took solace in the garage,
Where he planned a pumpkin barrage,
A big 10 foot trebuchet would fill the bill.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Third Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival Set to Launch at the Boyden Family Farm on Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Cambridge, Vermont - Sept 1, 2011 - Get your trebuchet ready for the 3rd Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on Sunday, October 2nd, 2011 at the the Boyden Family Farm in Cambridge, Vermont. The Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival is a fun family event, sponsored by the The Cambridge Area Rotary Club. Since 2009, the festival has been held to benefit the Lamoille Family Center in Morrisville, VT and the Cambridge Rotary.

The festival is a one day event where Do-It-Yourself mechanical wizards of all ages attempt to launch pumpkins as far as possible with trebuchets, which are medieval siege engines.

The festival has been growing in size every year, with 18 teams and over 800 spectators enjoying last year's competition with its music and picnic atmosphere. Music for this years festival will be provided by three bands; Mike Dunn, John Smyth, and the Honeybeez, who will be performing periodically from noon to 4pm.

World Record Attempt!

This year will have more competitors and will also feature an attempt at establishing a world record for most pumpkins simultaneously hurled in a mass volley.

Admission to the festival will cost $5 for adults and $3 for ages 12 and under. The festival goes from from noon to 4pm, featuring 3 competitive firings at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm with awards shortly after. No dogs and no alcohol please. Parking is free. Food will be provided by the Rotary.

Dave Jordan, founder (and competitor) of the festival says, "This is a fun competition modeled after the Soap Box Derby. The height and weight are limited to make it fair for teams with limited resources. The team that throws a pumpkin the farthest for their height will win best design prize and receive first pick of the prizes".

Vermont's Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival is an annual event, held on the first Sunday in October. It is leads up to the world championship "Punkin Chunkin" contest, which is held the first weekend after Halloween in Sussex County, Delaware. The Science Channel is again broadcasting the Delaware championship on Thanksgiving.

The festival will have four categories of competition, which also compete against each other for the Best Overall Design, which is the farthest throw for the height of their trebuchet. The four categories are: Lightweight Division, Middleweight Junior Division, Middleweight Open Division, and Heavyweight Division. It costs $5 to enter the competition. For the exact category specifications, rules, and entry information please visit the festival's website ( for details.

Exciting prizes for the competition winners have been donated by the festival sponsors. Prizes include:
  • Glider ride for 2 by Stowe Soaring
  • Dinner for 2 by Trattoria La Festa in Stowe
  • Dinner for 2 at Bee's Knees in Morrisville
  • Umiak Outfitters gift certificate
For more information about the Third Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival, people can visit the festival's website at or contact the festival organizer Dave Jordan, email:, telephone: (603) 630-4800.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hurling Season Approaches

There are now only 49 days remaining until the 3rd Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival, on Sunday, October 2nd, 2011.
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire, England

We love our trebuchets and "Pumpkin chuckin" in Vermont, but we have a ways to go to match the English for their love of all things medieval. Probably because there is no medieval history for the United States. No knights and trebuchets fought for control of Vermont castle keeps. Yes, those were the days. We will ignore the part about the black plague, famine, and short wretched lives.

Anyway, Warwick Castle, "Britain's Ultimate Castle," runs a medieval theme park that looks like it can be pretty intense. They have their famous Warwick trebuchet that hurls fireballs and realistic jousting tournaments. They also added a new dungeon attraction a couple of years ago that was reviewed as follows:
In the first month since the dungeon opened, 15 people have fainted and another four have vomited, apparently due to fear.

Visitors to the medieval dungeon are greeted by fake blood and life-size models of victims on the rack. Guides demonstrate how prisoners used to have their tongues ripped out.

Sue Kemp, general manager of Warwick Castle, said: "Our first month has certainly proved that the castle dungeon isn't for the fainthearted or those of a delicate constitution."

An official commented: "If there are many more incidents like these then the dungeon will have to be toned down."

Warwick Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 and used as a fortification. Some of the early prisoners were French soldiers...

Publicity for the dungeon attraction refers to "decaying bodies, chanting monks, torture implements and execution."
So, Vermont Pumpkin' Chuckin' is very tame stuff compared to going full medieval like they do at Warwick Castle. We will guarantee that no tongues will be removed at VTPC. But, please feel free to wag your tongues and tell your friends about VTPC.

Here is a nice tame video that shows off some of what goes on at Warwick Castle, including the trebuchet hurl of the fireball at the end.

Warwick Castle grounds
Wikipedia says this about the Warwick trebuchet:
In June 2005, Warwick Castle became home to one of the world's largest working siege engines. The trebuchet is 18 metres (59 ft) tall, made from over 300 pieces of oak and weighs 22 tonnes (24 short tons). The machine, which was made in Wiltshire, takes eight men half an hour to load and release. It is designed to be capable of hurling projectiles distances of up to 300 metres (980 ft) and as high as 25 metres (82 ft) and can throw up to 150 kilograms (330 lb) of ammunition at a time. On 21 August 2006, the trebuchet claimed the record as the most powerful catapult of its type when it sent a projectile weighing 13 kilograms (29 lb) a distance of 249 metres (817 ft) at a speed of 260 kilometres per hour (160 mph), beating the previous record held by a machine in Denmark. The war machine is situated on the banks of the River Avon which runs below the castle.
See you soon!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Be the Pumpkin: Human Hurling Trebuchet (Don't try this at home)

Reminder: there are only 87 days until the 3rd Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on Sunday, October 2nd, 2011.
There was a club in Oxfordshire,
Who wanted humans to fire,
They built a large trebuchet,
Then flung people for play,
Sadly, one poor soul did expire.

This Dangerous Human Trebuchet from Oxfordshire, England was profiled on a MythBusters episode. The episode, number 35, entitled Border Slingshot, was shown during season 3, and premiered on July 27, 2005. MythBusters tested the following myth:
Is it feasible to fly over the frontier? In this episode, Adam and Jamie take on the myth that illegal immigrants are firing themselves 200 yards across the border and into the United States with a slingshot so accurate, it can land the human projectiles safely on a carefully placed mattress. Border patrols are reportedly baffled — can the MythBusters' handbuilt human-sized slingshot solve the puzzle?
Annotated MythBusters:
In 2000 the Dangerous Sports Club launched Stella Young by trebuchet. She hit the net, then bounced onto the ground, breaking her pelvis. In 2002 a 19 year-old died in his attempt to repeat the stunt, missing the net entirely.

The 'Border Slingshot' myth by the way was busted.

The Dangerous Sport Club website adds more details and photos regarding Stella Young's brush with death and other human hurls. However, they do not mention the poor chap who was killed? You would think that information might be provided as part of a full disclosure on the risks involved.

"Scaredevil Stella: Plucky Dangerous Sports Club member Stella Young"

Stella Feeling Anxious

Travelling at 50mph, Stella begins to exit the arc

There was a woman named Stella,
Who wanted to prove she was not yella,
She got hurled long range,
By some folks deranged,
Now poor Stella's pelvis is jella.
This crazy club is still asking visitors, "Are you extreme enough to have a go?"

So, do you feel lucky pumpkin chuckers? Do any of you want to be the pumpkin? No thank you here. Pumpkins serve just fine as trebuchet projectiles.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The MURLIN Trebuchet

Don't forget there are only 121 days until the 3rd Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on October, 2nd, 2011.
There were some folks from Tucson,
Who wanted to get their geek on,
They built a MURLIN trebuchet,
That on YouTube they did display,
Three cheers for brain over brawn.
Development of a Dynamically Tuned MURLIN Trebuchet [video channel] -- Development of a MURLIN (rhymes with hurlin') trebuchet which is tuned to work with a bending structure.

The Golf Ball MURLIN:

Full power tests for the 5-armed MURLIN (Multi-Radius Linear Nodes) Trebuchet.

Dropping the full 37.5 counterweight in a still wind results in consistent distances (5 shots) over 600 feet. Longest shot found was 620 ft. The frame is reinforced for these tests because previous movies had shown substantial flexure under the 1000lb load just before release.

I believe my radar gun is unreliable (reading low due to slow sampling rates), but one reading of 127 mph was taken.

If you look carefully, you can see the golf balls actually curve upwards in flight due to the (Magnus effect) spin given by the pouch upon release...

Update: 22 May 2011 - Distances recorded up to 708 ft. this morning in a calm wind. 5mm Spectra cord and larger pulleys responsible for improved performance.
More videos:


Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Scrappy Old Man of Vermont

Sure it's wet and muddy, and maybe you have books to study, but don't be a fuddy and forget our pumpkin chuck.

There are 170 days until the 3rd Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on Sunday, October 2nd, 2011.
There was an Old Man of Vermont,
Who picked up scraps people don't want,
He build an awesome trebuchet,
And hurled pumpkins far away,
That scrappy Old Man of Vermont.

The Scrappy Old Man of Vermont
An Awesome Trebuchet
 photos via Flickr