Monday, December 17, 2012

Building a Monster Medieval Trebuchet: Warwolf

Warwolf Trebuchet

If you missed seeing PBS's NOVA story about building a replica of the legendary medieval trebuchet, Warwolf, be sure to check out the photo log for that show. The show was first aired back on February 1st, 2000.
NARRATOR: 200 years before cannon appeared in Europe, chroniclers make reference to what appears to be the ultimate 13th century siege weapon - an ingenious new form of heavy artillery that flung huge stone balls with such destructive power that castle walls were reduced to rubble. But no ancient weapon of this type has survived. Were such claims gross exaggerations, or did such a weapon really exist? To answer these questions, NOVA brings together a team of experts in medieval warfare who believe they know the secret.

JOEL MCCARTY: It's chaos. It's Wednesday, I think. I don't have a clue whether or not we'll finish.

NARRATOR: Their task - to build siege machines capable of destroying a castle wall at a range of about 200 yards...
The plan: NOVA and a team of master builders from England, Germany, France and the United States will reconstruct one of the most destructive of medieval weapons ever made: a giant trebuchet. They will raise the weapon in the shadows of Castle Urquhart, located on the shores of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands.

This is one of the castles that English armies attacked during Edward I's Scottish campaign 700 years ago. As part of the campaign, the army was said to have built one of the most monstrous trebuchets ever. Only its name survives: Warwolf.
PBS Nova builds a medieval trebuchet
In examining medieval drawings of trebuchets, mechanical engineer Wayne Neel, a professor from Virginia Military Institute, can't help but notice that many are represented with wheels.

He decides to add what is one of history's most fundamental inventions to his second prototype. To nearly everyone's surprise, the wheeled trebuchet shoots about one-third farther than its fixed counterpart.
Trebuchet builders gather at Castle Urquhart, located on the shores of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands

Almost overnight, this Scottish field is turned into a medieval construction site. Timber framers, stonemasons, carpenters and blacksmiths turn back time and employ medieval building techniques to construct two giant trebuchets. One design features a fixed counterweight and wheels; the other is wheel-less and is loaded with a swinging counterweight.

Observes Marcus Brandt, an on-site carpenter: "If it weren't for the jets flying overhead, you'd think you were in the 12th century." ....
NOVA Online / Secrets of Lost Empires:
Medieval Siege -- NOVA Builds a Trebuchet

Show Transcript: "Secrets of Lost Empires: Medieval Siege"

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Inferno Pics

We posted a bunch of great photos courtesy of Kim Brown, from Team Dante's Inferno, over on Facebook. They were taken at the 4th VT pumpkin Chuckin' Festival, October 7th, 2012, and show the competing trebuchets...

Team Dante's Inferno
Team Dante's Inferno

Trebuchet at VTPC #4
Bad Boomer the red treb

Friday, October 12, 2012

Siege of the Pumpkin Masters

Here is an interesting pre-festival article from The Transcript, the local Morrisville paper, that was published on October 4th, 2012. Republished with the permission of J.B. McKinley, editor.
The Transcript - Serving the People of Lamoille County with News Since 1881

Siege of the Pumpkin Masters
4th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival in Cambridge draws cloaks, crowds and competitors from around New England and New York

by Adam Howard

SUNY Plattsburg - Dr. Ken Podolak - Physics Faculty
Ask Dr. Ken Podolak if he played Dungeons and Dragons as a kid and he'll stop you before you can say chainmail. "I've always been into this stuff," he says from his office on the campus of SUNY Plattsburgh where he's a professor of physics and the advisor for the Physics and Engineering Club. "This is what it's all about."

In this case, this it isn't about bards or long swords, plate armor or crossbows. It's about the trebuchet ­ that medieval throwback that shaped a thousand years of warfare by, well, chucking stuff hard, far and even on fire. But, today, we're talking vegetables: More precisely, pumpkins. On Sunday, October 7th at 11 a.m. Podolak, 32, a half dozen of his students and a few hundred nerdcores from around the Northeast will lay siege to a field at the Boyden Farm in Cambridge. And for the team that chucks the fruit the farthest over three tries: All the Gothic glory, a trophy, some schwag and a ton of fun. It sounds simple, chucking stuff. But this is way more than roll playing say those who go about designing and building trebuchets.

"There's no motor on the devise to throw the projectile," Podolak says. "So, it's all bout carefully designing the pivot point and where the pin goes. Ours is a 'floating arm' design and the weight is allowed to drop vertically downward, not swinging." (see photo at bottom of page)

Prof. Podolak's pumpkin chucking (range of projectile) equation
He's even got an equation for how far a pumpkin travels.

"You know, the big reason we do this every year," Podolak says, "is it gives a physical representation to what we learn in class. You could build widgets or read textbooks, but this is really hands-on and fun. Plus it's for a good cause."

All proceeds from the nominal parking fee go toward Cambridge Area Rotary's charitable outreach and the Lamoille Family Center.

The ten-student SUNY Plattsburg team returns to defend its Middleweight Open Division title (see rules) from last year where their longest chuck was 130 feet. The students have spend three full weekends rendering their trebuchet which Podolak believes could exceed last year's record.

While there are several other universities travelling to Cambridge from around New England, according to Chuckin' Founder Dave Jordan, of Morrisville, building a trebuchet has become a popular family affair too.

The 'Super Stunners' Stunners”—a team made up of father Brian Jadus and son Alex, 7,and Jeff Marvin and his son seven-year-old Kyle—from Williston return with their trebuchet their trebuchet 'Vegetable Splatter˛ to defend their Lightweight Division title from 2011. The Jadus family had such a blast last year that, this year, mother Tammy and nine-year-old Victoria have entered an all girl team to go up against the boys.
2011 Champions
Seven-year-olds Alex Jadus and Kyle Marvin will be back with “Super Stunners” to defend their Lightweight Division crown this Sunday at the Boyden Farm. 
Tammy Jadus photo
"Brian, Victoria and myself made several adjustments to our trebuchet Hades is Here," Tammy says. "We are hoping to get greater distance than last year, which was around 35' to 40'. We may make 50' if all goes according to plan. These trebuchets are very tuned, one small error and your results vary. Hopefully this year it will be team Hades is Here holding a trophy."

Gates open at 11 a.m. with the first of three rounds getting underway at noon. Miss Vermont, Chelsea Ingram (of Fox 44 Weather), will be on hand to sing the National Anthem, and rumor has it she'll be dressed as Joan of Arc.

The Lamoille Family Center has tons of games for the kids and Rotary members will be chuckin' burgers and dogs all afternoon.
According to Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Dave Jordan, of Morrisville, the divisions were designed around the spirit of a Soap Box Derby. "The height and weight are limited to make it fair for teams with limited resources," he says. "The team that throws a pumpkin the farthest for their height will win best design prize and receive first pick of the prizes."
SUNY Plattsburg FAT (floating arm trebuchet)
This ain’t your great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather’s trebuchet. This weekend’s entry from the SUNY Plattsburgh Physics and Engineering club features a “floating arm” and the counterweight drops vertically rather than swinging. 
Photo credit: Dr. Ken Podolak
© 2012 The Transcript

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival 2012 Final Results

by Dave Jordan (event organizer)

Sponsors and Volunteers

I want to thank all the sponsors and volunteers who helped make this an educational and fun event. With great weather, great music, great competitors and a large crowd I think a good time was had by all. My intent was to create an event which encouraged innovation, made learning math and physics fun, taught woodworking and testing in a competitive environment, similar to a Soap Box Derby that inspired me when I was a kid. The best distance has improved from 139' in 2009 to 438' in 2012. No doubt some competitors and spectators have picked up some ideas to improve beyond this next year.

I'm sorry for neglecting to mention all the sponsors and volunteers during the festival while we had an audience, hopefully I can partially make up for that now. Please let me know if I forgot anybody or if I got the results wrong; or if you have suggestions for next year. Also, if anyone has pictures or comments they would like to share, please post them on the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Facebook page for everyone to enjoy.

Much appreciation goes to:
Mark and Lauri Boyden who let us use their beautiful location and worked many hours before, during and after the event.
The Cambridge Area Rotary club for promoting, parking, serving food, tshirts, posters.
The Lamoille Family Center for providing many excellent kid activities during the festival.
Len Amblo and his company, Button Professional Surveyors, for providing the distances of the chucks accurately and efficiently.
Apple Dannie and Technically Leonard's for producing an excellent video of last year's event and for video this years event. You can see last year's video by clicking on it below.
Mike Dunn and his sister Julia for providing a professional PA, wireless mikes, and excellent chucking music, both live and recorded.
John Smyth and Jenn for providing excellent music to assemble trebuchets by.
Bruce Wallace for doing an excellent job as Master of Ceremonies; and his wife Joyce for spending her anniversary watching the family chuck pumpkins.
Mike Gladu for record keeping, spreadsheet programming, organization and helping me plan the event.
Callan Janowiec for making my job much, much easier by registering, organizing and running the spreadsheet and picking the winners of each category.
Bill Orleans and his company Professional Publishing and Distribution for distributing posters to promote the event.
Rusty the Pirate for entertaining the audience.
Mickey and Minnie Mouse for entertaining the audience.
Chelsea Ingram for singing the National Anthem.
Caroline Jones for signing the National Anthem.
Stowe UPS Store for copying hundreds of orange pumpkin festival posters, waiver and registration forms.
All the other volunteers that helped me setup, take down, measure trebuchets, monitor safety, register etc.
Bees Knees, Trattoria LaFesta, Stowe Soaring and Umiak Outfitters for donating prizes.
Sponsors: Union Bank, Cambridge Artist and Entrepreneurs, Mortgage Financial, Johnson Hardware, Cambridge Village Market, Tatro Construction, Essence Salon and Day Spa, JCF, Essex Discount Beverage and Deli, Smugglers' Notch, Affiliated Associates, Matt's Wash and Wax, Rainville's Collision and Repair, House of Troy, Smugglers' Notch Distillery.

Angry Pumpkin - Grand Prize Winner at VT Pumpkin Chuckin'
Angry Pumpkins
Grand Prize, Best Design

We had 18 trebuchets this year, spread across 5 divisions. The machines compete within their division and the top 3 teams in each division get trophies. The best distances in the Lightweight and Middleweight divisions are scaled up (* see explanation below) for their height to compete with the best distance in the Heavyweight division. The scaled up best distances compete across all divisions for the grand prize of "Best Design" and first pick of the 4 prizes contributed by Stowe Soaring, Trattoria LaFesta, Bees Knees and Umiak Outfitters.

The grand prize was awarded to Angry Pumpkins, captained by first time competitor, Dwight Snowberger (from CT) with team members, Amanda Snowberger, Steven Snowberger and Deborah Snowberger.

Angry Pumpkins threw 256', which scaled up to 438 feet. Congratulations to Dwight and his team for their excellent floating arm design and unique batting style firing. I hope they come back next year to defend their title.

* The lightweights have a 41" height limit so they are multiplied by a scaling factor to let them compete fairly with the heavyweights, which have a 10' (120") height limit. The scaling factor is the ratio between their heights which is 120/41 = 2.9268. The middleweights have a 70" height limit so their scaling factor is 120/70 = 1.7142. The heavyweights are not scaled since they are already at 10 feet. The intention of this scaling twist is to give the younger, smaller competitors a real chance at winning the whole competition. A nine year old kid would have a hard time safely making a 10' tall, 500 lb. trebuchet, but they are perfectly capable of safely making a 41', 20 lb. machine. If any trebuchets are over the height or weight limits for their class, they are penalized based on how much they are over, to make it fair for all competitors. See the "Rules"section for details.

Lightweight Division

First place went to Wolf Den, Cub scout troop 692, captained by Brian Jadus. 2nd place went to "Hades is here", our first all women team, only 3 feet behind first place! 3rd place went to Wolf Howl, another cub scout troops captained by Tony Medici. Check out the full results summary below for all the team members and details.

Middleweight Junior Division

1st place was again (3 years in a row!) awarded to "Pumpkin Chuckin Airlines", brothers Daniel and Michael Wallace from East Haddem, CT. 2nd place went to first time competitor, "Cloud Splitters". Check out the full results summary below for all the team members and details.

Middleweight Open Division

This division was highly competitive with 1st, 2nd and 3rd place all being with 37 feet of each other. 1st place was "Angry Pumpkins", 2nd place was SUNY Plattsburgh, only 37 feet back. 3rd place was Team Jordan (third year competitor) which actually threw 10 feet farther than SUNY but was penalized for being 6 pounds overweight. 4th place went to Team Stapleton, 5th place went to 1st time competitor, Trebu-Ray, 6th to Dante's Inferno Junior (also a 1st time competitor and spinoff of the Brown Family Dynasty that won the heavyweight division last year), 7th place went to 2nd time competitor, "Looking For A Satisfying Splat". Check out the full results summary below for all the team members and details.

Heavyweight Division

In the glory (and dangerous) heavyweight division, 1st place went to Pumpkin's Bane (excellent realistic medieval design). 2nd place to Dante's Inferno Senior and the Brown family from Mass. They also get my vote for best paint job, best decorating their trebuchet AND most stylist monogrammed team shirt - just like last year, except a new design. 3rd place to "Weapons of Medieval Destruction". Last year, Nick Helms, the captain of "Weapons" threw a show-stopping 519 feet with a "whipper" design. 4th place went to first time team, "Duck and Cover". 5th place went to "Bad Boomer". "Bad Boomer" lived up to its name and broke on its first and only throw due to an assembly error by Dave Jordan, the event organizer. In 4 years, I have yet to throw a pumpkin forward; but there is always next year.

Unlimited Division

The Unlimited Division has no height or weight limits and doesn't compete for prizes, just "Throw for Show". Local inventor, JJ Spanier from Cambridge brought his monster trebuchet with 1000 lb. counterweight and threw an 8 pound pumpkin 293 feet for the farthest throw of the day. JJ has participated 4 years in a row and aspires to throw a pumpkin 1000 feet, perhaps with a whipper design inspired by Nick Helms's 2011 machine.

We hope to see you all back next year at the 5th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival.

Full summary of results
----- Lightweight Division Age: 10 and below Max trebuchet weight: 20 lbs Max trebuchet height: 41" Min pumpkin weight: 3 oz.
Place Team name Height Weight Best throw Adjusted 1st Wolf Den, Cub Scout 39" 19.5 lbs. 44' 129' Troop 692 Captain: Brian Jadus, Alex Jadus, Kyle Marvin, Alec Blevins, Declan Shea, Aiden Blevins, Zachary Spitznagle, Grant Schroeder Comments: 2nd year competitor 2nd Hades is Here 39" 19.5 lbs. 41' 122' Captain: Victoria Jadus Tammy Jadus Comments: First all female team 3rd Wolf Howl 39" 17.0 lbs. 28' 82' Captain: Tony Medici, Jacob Medici Logan Vaughan Dylan LeBlanc Mark Brodkowski Xander Zipko Ethan Tardiff DJ Hankey Jim Zipko
----- Middleweight Junior Division Age: 17 and below Max trebuchet weight: 100 lbs Max trebuchet height: 70" Min pumpkin weight: 1 lb.
Place Team name Height Weight Best throw Adjusted 1st Pumpkin Chuckin Airline 65" 98 lbs. 102' 175' Captain: Daniel Wallace Michael Wallace Comments: Winners 3 years in row 4 year competitor 2nd Cloud Splitters 59" 88 lbs. 43' 73' Captain: Thomas Daley Sam Crites Comments: First time competitors
----- Middleweight Open Division Age: Open to all ages Max trebuchet weight: 100 lbs Max trebuchet height: 70" Min pumpkin weight: 1 lb.
Place Team name Height Weight Best throw Adjusted 1st Angry Pumpkins 66.5" 97.0 lbs. 256' 438' Captain: Dwight Snowberger Amanda Snowberger Steven Snowberger Deborah Snowberger First time team, walked off with the Grand prize 2nd SUNY Plattsburgh 68" 99 lbs. 219' 375' Captain: Tobey Betthauser Cody, Mike, Ashley Taylor, Jordan, Jordyn, Dan, Jerry Third year competitor, winner 2011 3rd Team Jordan 68" 106 lbs. 229' 359' Captain: Don Jordan Chris Jordan Johnnie Jordan Third year competitor 4th Team Stapleton 70" 97 lbs. 184' 314' Captain: Unknown Comments: First time competitor 5th Trebu-Ray 62" 100 lbs. 131' 224' Captain: Raymond Chamberlin Comments: First time competitor 6th Dante's Inferno Junior 74" 157 lbs. 206' 154' Captain: Ryan Brown Comments: Spinoff of the Brown family dynasty 7th Looking For A Satisfying Splat 55" 100 lbs. 59' 100' Captain: John Doty Olivia Doty Ethan Boutin Comments: 2nd year competitor
----- Heavyweight Division Age: Open to all ages Max trebuchet weight: 500 lbs Max trebuchet height: 120" Min pumpkin weight: 5 lb.
Place Team name Height Weight Best throw Adjusted 1st Pumpkin's Bane II 110" 466 lbs. 262' 262' Captain: Chris McGrody Scott Bardeni Comments: 2nd year competitor 2nd Dante's Inferno Senior 112" 410 lbs. 186' 186' Captain: Tim Brown Amanda Brown Kim Brown Michelle Choate Dan Choate Comments: Winner 2011, 2nd year competitor, monogrammed team shirts Best paint job and decorating 3rd Weapons of Medievel Destruction 151" 613 lbs. 280' 166' Captain: Nick Helms Bruce Penfield Barry Shelton Mike Minnie Nancy Penfield Comment: Best throw of the day for legal entries 3rd year competitor, last year threw a whopping 519' 4th Duck and Cover 129" 431 lbs. 123' 114' Captain: Ryan Doyle Joe Deslauriers Comments: First time competitor 5th Bad Boomer 119" 542 lbs. 0' 0' Captain: Dave Jordan Comments: 4 year competitor, yet to throw a pumpkin
----- Unlimited Division (Throw for Show) Age: Open to all ages Max Trebuchet Weight: No limit Max Trebuchet height: No limit Min pumpkin weight: No limit, whatever the captain wants to throw
Place Team name Height Weight Best throw 1st Agricultural Implements 16' 2000 lbs. 293' of Destruction Best throw of the day Plans to throw 1000' someday

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Great Silo Shot

Misfire! One that got away at the Vermont Pumpkin Chuck...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thank You to All the VTPC Festival Volunteers and Sponsors

We want to send out a big thank you to all the great Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival volunteers, who make the event a special day for so many.

Button Professional Land Surveyors, PC

Leonard Amblo -- Button Professional Land Surveyors
Leonard Amblo and sons from Button Professional Land Surveyors doing the precise work of recording our competition distances.

Leonard Amblo and Button Professional Land Surveyors have done a fantastic job the last two years and we could not be more thankful for all of their hard work and professionalism. Again, thank you very much.
Our musical performers:
  • Mike Dunn
  • John and Jenn

Another festival filled with great music. Thank you.
A special thank you to Chelsea Ingram, Miss Vermont 2012, for visiting VTPC this year and singing our national anthem.

Miss Vermont 2012, Chelsea Ingram

Apple Dannie / Technically Leonard's (audio / video production for musicians and small business)

Apple Dannie - Technically Leonards

This event would not be possible without the tireless support of Mark Boyden and the Boyden Family Farm.

The Boyden Family Farm
Thank you for the great prizes from these sponsors:
Thank you to the Lamoille Family Center in Morrisville, Vermont, for the great activities you set-up at the festival. And for all your great service to the community.

 All our 2012 sponsors:

And to the many others from the Cambridge Area Rotary Club and those who came from far away, who all contribute to a great festival. Thank you very much to all of you.

Pumpkin Chuckin' in Cambridge

Great competition yesterday at the 4th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival.

Loading up a trebuchet at Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin'
Loading up a trebuchet

Here is a WCAX news report from yesterday's Pumpkin Chuckin' in Cambridge.

Kyle Midura / WCAX: Pumpin chuckin' in Cambridge --
During the fall months, Cambridge is home to some of the best seasonal colors. But, on at least one Sunday in this small Vermont town, streaks of pumpkin-orange draw more spectators than the foliage.
Nick Helms says he can't imagine a hobby more enjoyable than 'Pumpkin Chuckin'. "I mean, what's more fun than building something and then watching the success of it flying through the air," he said, "it's just indescribable." ...
One big trebuchet at the @pumpkinchuckin festival by @ShayTotten

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Get Ready To Hurl...

Today is the day. It's time to lock and load your pumpkins. The Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival is here!

Time to load your pumpkin in the trebuchet.
The Schedule:

Competitors may start setting up anytime after 8 am today. Remember BYOP.
  • Gates open at 11 am for spectators
  • 12 noon: National Anthem sung by Miss Vermont, Chelsea Ingram, followed by 1st round of trebuchet competition, and the music also begins
  • 1 pm: 2nd round
  • 2 pm: 3rd and final round with awards immediately following
Chelsea Ingram, Miss Vermont 2012, will sing anthem at VT Pumpkin Chuckin'
 Chelsea Ingram, Miss Vermont 2012, will sing the anthem at Fourth Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

Admission to the festival will cost $5 for anybody 4 years old or older (spectator or competitor), free for 3 and under, $20 (max) for an immediate family.


Music for this year's festival will be provided by Vermont performers Mike Dunn and Jenn & John, who will be performing periodically from noon to 4pm.


Served by the Cambridge Area Rotary Club

Other Activities:

The Lamoille Family Center of Morrisville will be running numerous activities for children at the Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival including – face painting, bean bag toss, ring toss, noodle necklaces, corn pool, costume characters, and more.

Great Prizes:

Exciting prizes for the competition winners have been donated by the festival sponsors. Prizes include:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pumpkin Hurling Season U.S.A.

Pumpkins fly across the USA this month in a variety of Pumpkin Chuckin' events:

There are only three days until our own Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival, on Sunday, October 7th, at the Boyden Family Farm, in Cambridge Vermont.

Here are some other pumpkin hurling events that will be going on around the country later this month:

 Brian Boldry and his 'First Try Trebuchet' in Colorado
Brian Boldry makes adjustments to his pumpkin-launching contraption, which is called “First Try Trebuchet” as he practices and prepares for Punkin Chunkin Colorado from the front yard of his friend’s home in Elizabeth, Colorado on Friday, September 28, 2012. More photos by Lindsay Pierce at YourHub

Punkin Chunkin Colorado

The 2012 Punkin Chunkin Colorado competition will be held Saturday, October 13th, 2012, from 10am to 5pm at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds, 25690 E. Quincy Ave., Aurora, Colorado.
New Jersey Last Fling Pumpkin Sling
Last Fling Pumpkin Sling, Oct 20 & 21st, 2012, Warren County, NJ
From the 2011 New Jersey Last Fling Pumpkin Sling competion:

The Great Pumpkin Farm Trebuchet Contest on October 13-14, 2012, in Clarence, New York:

The Great Pumpkin Farm Trebuchet Contest

The Morton Punkin Chuckin’ Contest in Morton, Illinois, October 20th, 2012:

The Morton Punkin Chuckin’ Contest
The Suffolk County Pumpkin Fling, October 27th, in Yaphank, New York:

The Suffolk County Pumpkin Fling

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Countdown to Hurl-time

There are now only six day until the 4th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival.

Other Activities at Pumpkin Chuckin' --

The Lamoille Family Center of Morrisville will be running numerous activities for children at the Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival including – face painting, bean bag toss, ring toss, noodle necklaces, corn pool, costume characters, and more. 
Our Annual Safety Message:

We once again want to remind all our competitors that safety must be a critical part of all your procedures for firing your trebuchet.

Hoisting your counterweight and arming your trebuchet is just as dangerous as the actual firing. For example, checkout the following video show the aftermath of a very severe accident that occurred during the filming of the reality TV show Little People, Big World.

The episode was entitled, "Trebuchet Trouble" and it had the following incident:
Jacob Roloff, 9, and Michael Detjen, 58, were injured when a 25-foot-high wooden trebuchet at Roloff Farms fired prematurely. The machine's 2,000-pound concrete counterweight dented Jacob's skull, requiring surgery, and repeatedly slammed into Detjen, a retired Beaverton engineer who needed 200-plus stitches.

 Wikipedia adds this account of the accident:
Jacob Roloff and family friend Mike Detjen, were seriously injured in an accident on the family farm on Saturday, October 28, 2006 (episode aired April 9, 2007). They were injured when the family's trebuchet (which they use to launch pumpkins as part of the pumpkin season promotion) prematurely triggered. Jacob was rushed to nearby St. Vincent Hospital and underwent surgery to relieve swelling in his head caused by a small piece of skull pushed into his brain. Jacob and Mike recovered from the injuries and were released on Monday, October 30, 2006.

Although a TLC camera crew were at the farm recording footage, they were not in the area where the accident occurred. The accident, therefore, was not recorded. Prior to the airing of two new episodes on November 4, TLC aired a brief segment with Matt and Amy acknowledging the accident and thanking everyone for their support. Jacob was shown with what appeared to be an injury around his right eye.

Footage taken shortly after the accident occurred on the farm was shown December 16 in the final minutes of the season finale, "Farm Overload." A crowd had gathered around Jacob, who was lying on the ground near the trebuchet. The first two episodes of season 3 focus on the accident, and how the local media reacted to it.
Fortunately everyone survived this accident. But, the moral is that trebuchets are dangerous and fragile weapons. They are war machines. Happily, VTPC does not allow 2000-pound concrete counterweights, but any of of the machines in our three weight categories (20, 100, and 500 lb) can still put a big dent in your skull if they malfunction.  If you need more reasons to pay attention to safety, go back and checkout one of our old videos of Dave J's trebuchet having a massive failure before last year's VTPC.

Be safe out there all hurlers.
To be safe and stay injury free,
There's a way your trebuchet must be,
Well set-up and inspected,
With no hazard neglected,
Do-it-right, that's your best guarantee. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Reminders: A Fortnight to Go, and BYOP

Only two weeks now until the Great Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on Sunday, October 7th.

A reminder:  BYOP = Bring Your Own Pumpkins

Competitors are please reminded to bring their own pumpkins for the competition. They should be pre-weighed to make sure they are at least 3 ounces for the lightweight, at least 1 pound for the middleweight, and at least 5 pounds for the heavyweight. Bring at least 3 to throw and more to practice. Dave J. will provide a dummy ball (or two ) just in case people can't find or don't bring pumpkins.
Same price as last year...

It's been decided to keep the cost for the VTPC festival the same as last year.

Admission to the festival will cost $5 for anybody 4 years old or older (spectator or competitor), free for 3 and under, $20 (max) for an immediate family. The festival goes from 11 am to dark, featuring three rounds of competitive pumpkin chuckin' starting at 12 noon after the National Anthem is sung by Miss Vermont, Chelsea Ingram.

The 2nd round of firing is at 1pm, 3rd round at 2pm with awards shortly after the last round. No dogs and no alcohol please. Parking is free. Food will be provided by the Rotary.

It's a fantastic bargain. So, come on down to the Boyden Family Farm and support your Cambridge Area Rotary Club!
BFF = Boyden Family Farm
 BFF = Boyden Family Farm / Pumpkin Chuckin' Heaven
patio at Boyden Family Farm

In addition to being a great location for your next event, Boyden Farm is a real, working family farm, and has been for the Boyden family for almost 100 years!

Check out Facebook: The Barn at Boyden Farm
Some final words of wisdom from The 10 Commandments of Trebuchet Hurling, or the Pumpkin Chuckin' Code of Conduct:

BYOP = Bring Your Own Pumkins
Thou Shalt Not Hide Thy Neighbor's Counterweights
via Craig Simmons

Friday, September 14, 2012

Countdown to 4th VT Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

There are only 22 days until the 4th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on Sunday, October 7th, at the Boyden Family Farm in Cambridge, VT.  A few notes:

Here is the press release for this year's festival.

Travel New England has included the VTPC Festival on its list of Vermont 2012 Fall Festivals, Harvest Festivals, Apple Festivals and More.

Miss Vermont, Chelsea Ingram, who will be singing the National Anthem at our festival on Oct. 7th, reports on her various activities around Vermont on her facebook page.

Chelsea Ingram, Miss Vermont 2012, will sing anthem at VT Pumpkin Chuckin'
Delaware has put their Punkin Chunkin event on their "Delaware Bucket List." If you are a Vermonter it is your Green Mountain duty to put, going to the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival, on yours.

Put Pumpkin hurling on your bucket list!
Pumpkin People
Pumpkin People are always de-vine
New Trebuchet World Record, and a New Holy Grail...

Pompoenschieten Bikschote - European Pumpkin Catapulting Contest

Big News from the European Pumpkin Catapulting Contest:
September 3, 2012 -- SiegeMasters is proud to announce the establishment of a new World Record for a Gravity powered Trebuchet with a 10-Lb pumpkin.

Dateline Sunday, September 02, 2012
Bikschote, West Flanders, Belgium

Today, the giant Whipper type Trebuchet known as Excalibur threw a 10-Lb pumpkin for a distance of 763.3 meters (2,504.33 feet), which exceeds last years WCPC Adult Trebuchet winner by 177.66 feet.

The World Championship of Punkin Chunkin is held in Delaware, USA the first weekend in November and will determine if this new record will stand.

Until then, Our most hearty congratulations.
The final world record distance was amended slightly to 2504.26509 feet. This is 177.665 feet better than the US/World Championship Punkin Chunkin, WCPC record of 2,326.60 feet set in 2011, by the Yankee Siege II team in the Adult Trebuchet Class.

Yankee Siege 2 at 2011 WCPC
Yankee Siege 2, November 10, 2011

via Craig Simmons, who has a great collection of trebuchet photos.
Here is a slow motion test firing of Excalibur (the new record holder) from 2010:

If you are interested in serious trebuchet engineering checkout Craig Simmons full facebook page. He builds traditional, modern and experimental trebuchets in his spare time.

Trebuchet Workshop
Emperor Twang - Whipper trebuchet by Craig Simmons
Finally, here is a great pumpkin hurling contest for kids out on Long Island, New York. The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County Pumpkin Fling:

These kids are building some serious trebuchets. This year's Pumpkin Fling will be held on Saturday, October 27th, 2012, at the Suffolk County Farm in Yaphank, NY.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pre-Season Pumpkin Chuckin' Notes

Here are some short notes as we get ready for Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' 2012
1. Earlier Start

The 4th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin trebuchet competition will start at 12 noon, on Sunday, October 7th, 2012.

Please note that this year's 12 noon starting time for the pumpkin hurling is an hour earlier than last year. The first round of pumpkin hurling will begin immediately after Miss Vermont, Chelsea Ingram, sings our national anthem at 12 noon. The gates are open to spectators at 11 am.

Competitors may start setting up their machines anytime after 8 am on the day of the competition at Boyden Family Farms. There is no mandatory time, just give yourself enough time to get checked-in, and get your machine setup so you are ready to hurl at 12 noon. Thank you.
2. Fine Tuning the Trebs

Planning for this year's Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival is getting serious. Here is a behind the scenes photo of a trebuchet design and 'optimization' meeting down in East Haddam, Connecticut on August 19th. Sorry no pictures allowed of the new trebuchet -- it is still top secret!

Trebuchet Optimization Meeting - E. Haddam, CT
3. Makin' Fun

Jérôme Cann, who is the Program Director for Vermont's first annual Champlain Maker Faire has extended an open invitation to any and all Vermont Pumpkin Chuckers. You are invited to exhibit your machines (catapults, trebuchets, canon, etc.) and skills at their Champlain Maker Faire on Saturday, September 29, 2012. It will be held at Shelburne Farms, VT. This is on the weekend before our 4th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival.

Maker Faire is not a crafts-for-sale fair, but is an event where Makers bring, share and teach what they make to other Makers and to the general public.  Participation in the event is free for those Makers that simply want to share their love of making things with other Makers and the public. There is a nominal fee for those makers wishing to sell what they make during the event.

Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' organizer and competitor Dave Jordan is planning to take his new 10' trebuchet over to the Maker Faire and exhibit/demo it. If you are interesting in joining him at the faire with our own hurling machine please give Dave a call or email him. You will also need to fill out an online Maker Faire application. If you are visiting the Faire please stop by and say hi to Dave.

Champlain Maker Faire
4. Some Huring History:
Knights standing in front of trebuchet, nervously trying to figure out where the rock will fall, from the Siege of Acre, 1189-1191, Third Crusade:

Siege of Acre, 1189-1191, Knights in front of trebuchet

5. Punkin Chunkin Catapult 2012 Election Prediction

Roman Revenge, a 7 ton Punkin Chunkin catapult competitor lets chance take a stab at predicting the winner of the 2012 presidential election. One side of the 10 lb bowling ball was labeled "Romney 12," and the other side was labeled "Obama 12." The winner will have their name face up of course...

Roman Revenge does not endorse any presidential candidate.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chelsea Ingram, Miss Vermont 2012, will Sing Anthem at Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

Chelsea Ingram, Miss Vermont 2012, will sing anthem at VT Pumpkin Chuckin'
 Chelsea Ingram, Miss Vermont 2012, will sing the anthem at Fourth Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

Exciting news to announce: Chelsea Ingram, Miss Vermont 2012, will be visiting the Fourth Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on Sunday, October 7th.

Chelsea Ingram, who is also the weekend meteorologist for Fox44 and ABC22 News in Burlington, VT, will sing the national anthem at the start of the Pumpkin Chuckin' competition. Chelsea will also sign some autographs, perhaps sing a few other songs, and talk about her platform issue of heart health.

During her year as Miss Vermont, Chelsea Ingram will travel throughout Vermont advocating her platform issue. "Raising a new generation of heart healthy adults has been a passion of mine ever since my dad was diagnosed with heart disease. It’s time for my generation, Miss Vermont and Miss America to lead a new generation; a generation where heart health is a priority, a generation where Vermonters are accountable for their health and the health of our children,” said Ingram. She will talk to various government representatives, business leaders, community groups and citizens-at-large, urging them to get involved in fostering heart health programs.

If she is crowned Miss America in January, the on-air forecaster and trained opera singer will become the first Miss Vermont to wear the national crown.

There are 139 days until Chelsea competes at the Miss America 2013 pageant in Las Vegas on January 12, 2013. She was crowned Miss Vermont on July 1st.

We are all very excited to have Chelsea visit the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival. Her goal of helping to raising a new generation of heart health adults fits very nicely with the VTPC goal of giving people a healthy and fun outdoor activity that promotes a healthy mind and body.

There are now only 41 days until the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Da Vinci Day

The Da Vinci Day that was held by the Lyme School, on May19, 2012, was a big success. Junior trebuchet builders had a chance to show off their engineering skills.

The Lyme School Newsletter reported:
Encouraging students to think creatively, be curious, challenge themselves, take risks and be comfortable communicating their ideas. These event as well as those mentioned above are just a few of the opportunities that students have to strengthen these habits. They are also opportunities for us to have fun and appreciate how talented, knowledgeable and creative we all are (as well as get splattered by dye filled water balloons launched by trebuchets-- resulting in a Lyme version of “tie dye” - now known as “trebu-dye”).

Many have already asked whether we will have a Da Vinci Day next year and what the “Challenge Build” will be. The answer is ABSOLUTELY there will be a Davinci day! And as for what the challenge will be?... You will have to wait and see, but it will result in splatter. Thanks to all that volunteered and helped raise over $2,500 for the LIFE fund and the programs like Spanish and Inquiry Based Science.
Here are some photos from the trebuchet event at the Lyme School's Da Vinci Day:

A very cool wheeled, red Floating Arm Trebuchet (FAT) at Da Vinci Day
A Lyme original, Trebu-dyed shirt!