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.