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.