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.