Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Final Results and Report for the 8th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on Sept. 25th, 2016

We had a gorgeous, sunny, sometimes windy day at the Stoweflake Resort and Spa for the Eighth Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival with 18 teams competing in the chuck, 7 teams in the Chili Cook Off, 43 volunteers and over 1200 spectators enjoying the chuckin, chili, beer, wine, homemade pies, two bands, face-painting, balloon animals, games and volleyball.  Over $8000 was raised for the Lamoille Restorative Center (Hyde Park) whose 23 staff and volunteers did an amazing job helping with the festival.  LRC is doing great work and it was a pleasure to work with them.

Apparent Story of the festival: Father and son sweep?

It seems like the story of the festival was Dave Jordan (that's me, the organizer) after seven years of failing miserably to fire his trouble prone trebuchet, finally getting off one good throw.  And an awesome throw it was, especially considering how low I had set people's expectations.  The five pound payload went a record 693 feet (got credit for 689 because of a small weight penalty) and won the overall Best Design Grand Prize.

Don, Chris and Ann Jordan (Dave Jordan's father from Palmyra, NY, and aunt and uncle from FL) formed Team Jordan who had two pity-inspiring throws in the 1st and 2nd round; and then miraculously threw 285 feet (scaled up to 489) on their last chuck.  They were surprised by the last throw and even more surprised to find they had won the highly competitive Middleweight Open Division.

Real Story:  Nine year old girl and her dad

Emmerson Stapleton repeated her utter domination of the Lightweight Division with her innovative tripod collapsing trebuchet throwing an incredible 200 feet, which when scaled to Heavyweight would throw 590 feet!  (More on “scaling” below).  She would have been the first female and the first Lightweight to win the Best Design Grand Prize in the history of the eight year festival... if I hadn't had a very lucky, wind assisted, “throw of my life”.  Jonathon Stapleton, Emmerson's dad, brought a similar design trebuchet to the Heavyweight Division, but the design seems to be tricky to scale up to that weight.  Nonetheless, he threw a very respectable 475 feet, and once he tweaks it he may be a real contender next year.

End of an era:  No more awesome Weapons of Medieval Destruction

I first met Nick Helms, builder of Weapons of Medieval Destruction, in 2010 at the second festival when he showed up in chain mail with his huge over-height, overweight trebuchet.  The next year, in the pouring rain, his whipper design threw 519 feet (adjusted due to penalties to 354).  He knew his machine was way over-height and overweight, but didn't care about the penalty, or competing, he just wanted to inspire other people to build cool throwing machines.  He is retiring his whipper and vows to return in 2017 with a torsion catapult.

Trophy and cash winners in the trebuchet contest:

Lightweight Division (age 10 and under, trebuchet limited to 20 lbs. and 41”)
  • 1st place trophy plus $50 cash: Emmerson Stapleton, (Destroyer)
  • 2nd place trophy: Teresa (TPS Chuckers 2)
  • 3rd place trophy: Gustav (Whipper Snapper)

Middleweight Junior Division (age 17 and under, trebuchet limited to 100 lbs. and 70”)
  • 1st place trophy plus $50 cash:  Pack 607, Tom Knight (Elastic X)
  • 2nd place trophy: Steven McCann (Max Distance)

Middleweight Open Division: (any age, trebuchet limited to 100 lbs. and 70”)
  • 1st place trophy plus $50 cash: Don Jordan (Team Jordan)
  • 2nd place trophy: Ed Chamberlin (Ooh-raw)
  • 3rd place trophy: Ray Chamberlin (Queen Christine III)

Heavyweight Division: (any age, trebuchet limited to 500 lbs. and 120”)

  • 1st place trophy plus $50 cash: Dave Jordan (Bad Boomer)
  • 2nd place trophy: Chris McGrody (Hammer of the Gourds)
  • 3rd place trophy: Jonathan Stapleton (The Stick)

Grand Prize Best Design trophy plus $50 cash: Dave Jordan (Bad Boomer)

Scaling, height, weight limitations and penalties:

I often get asked why the scaling, height and weight limitations and penalties are so complicated.  The answer is, they need to be that complicated to make it fair for all competitors.  If a trebuchet design is made twice as tall, it will throw twice as far.  This allows us to directly compare the design of a lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight by scaling up the smaller trebuchets so they compete on equal footing with the heavyweights.  By comparing their relative heights, the magic number is roughly 2.9 for the lightweight and 1.7 for the middleweights.  For example, Emmerson actually threw 200 feet, but because her trebucheet is a lightweight, it is scaled up to 590 feet.  This is how we select the Best Design Grand Prize.  The four winners of each division are scaled up to Heavyweight size.  The Lightweight winner is scaled up by 2.9, both Middlweight winners are scaled up by 1.71 and the Heavyweight winner is not scaled.  The best “scaled” distance wins the Grand Prize.  So far it has gone to the Heavyweights 3 times and to the Middlweight Open 5 times. 

A trebuchet must be powered only by gravity, so by limiting the height and weight, we ensure each competitor starts with the same amount of energy.  If they choose to make their frame very light, they can use more weight in the counterweight, at the risk of breaking something.  It takes more energy to throw a heavier pumpkin, so the pumpkins must be at, or over, the specified weight to be legal.

If a trebuchet is over-height or over-weight, we don't kick them out of the festival; we allow them to compete with a penalty roughly proportional to how much they are out of spec.  The penalty isn't really so much a penalty as a proportional offset to correct for the weight or height advantage beyond the “legal” limits. 

The following summary of each division will show the adjusted distance, after scaling up including any penalty.  If you want the actual distance, just divide by the appropriate scaling.

Summary of all competitors (all distances adjusted and scaled up to Heavyweight)

Lightweight Division: (scaling 2.9268)
  • 1st place: Emmerson Stapleton (Destroyer), 590 feet
  • 2nd place: Teresa (TPS Chuckers 2), 209 feet
  • 3rd place: Gustav (Whippersnapper) 137 feet
  • 4th place: Owen, (Tomato Tosser), 104 feet
  • 5th place: Teresa (TPS Chuckers 1), 92 feet
  • 6th place: Will Johnson, 80 feet

Middleweight Junior Division: (scaling 1.7142)
  • 1st place: Pack 607, Tom Knight, (Elastic X)
  • 2nd place: Steven McCann, (Max Distance), 93 feet

Middleweight Open Division: (scaling 1.7142)
  • 1st place: Don Jordan (Team Jordan), 489 feet
  • 2nd place: Ed Chamberlin (Ooh-rah), 422 feet
  • 3rd place: Ray Chamberlin (Queen Christine III), 393 feet
  • 4th place: Bill Wooden (Green Monster), 352 feet
  • 5th place: Ryan Brown (Redneck Wreckers), 281 feet
  • 6th place: Bob Olesen, (Wheel of Fortune), 235 feet

Heavyweight Division: (no scaling)
  • 1st place: Dave Jordan (Bad Boomer), 689 feet
  • 2nd place: Chris McGrody (Hammer of the Gourds), 483 feet
  • 3rd place: Jonathan Stapleton, (The Stick), 475 feet
  • 4th place: Nick Helms, Weapons of Medieval Destruction, 265 feet

Chili Cook Off champions:

The chili cook off was a great success with seven competitors and running out of chili before the end of the festival.  Thanks for Keith Thompson for stepping in and running the show.  Here are the winners:
  • First place trophy and $100 cash: Ken Wasserman (Make Chili Great Again)
  • 2nd place trophy and $50 cash: Al Spitzer
  • 3rd place trophy and $25 cash: (Smokers of the Lost Pork)

Thanks to our main sponsor, Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa for letting us use their beautiful field for free, as well as all the other sponsors: Stowe Country Club, The Alchemist, Concept 2, Community National Bank, Laraway Youth and Family Services, Smugglers Notch, Stackpole and French, Hoagies, Clear Water Filtration, BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont, Donald P. Blake, Jr. Inc., H.A. Manosh, Union Bank, Aubuchon Hardware, The MSI Group, Stowe Soaring, Stowe UPS, Stowe Motel, McCain Consulting, Umiak Outfitters, Trattoria La Festa, Thompson's Flour Shop, PP&D.

Special thanks to Duffy and Dan McLaughlin for setup and take down, to John Prittie to helping repair my trebuchet and help Team Jordan fire their winning throw, To Bruce Wallace and his family for being the Master of Ceremonies and helping for the last 7 years, to Mike Gladu, Nick Pizzutti and Alyssa for recording keeping and calculating the winners, to Gunner McCain for quick, cheery distance readings, to Mike Dunn for excellent sound system and House Dunn and Jen and John for great music, to Bob Gross and Russell Baum for helping out with safety and setup for the last 8 years, to Jon Halfcarhalftruck and Aaron Fourier for running the volleyball challenge, even though nobody challenged them, the volleyball court was busy all day.

We look forward to our next festival, the 9th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festial on Sept. 24th, 2017 at the Stoweflake Resort.

Dave Jordan
Festival organizer
161 Henway Road
Morrisville, VT  05661

Winning Trebuchet, Bad Boomer, courtesy Eliza Larson (@WCAX_Eliza):

Eliza Larson / WCAX:
Pumpkin Chuckers descend on Stowe for annual event --
If you're looking for a new spectator sport, try Pumpkin Chucking. That's what hundreds of people did Sunday in Stowe. 
Wood, metal, or rope -- whatever it takes to chuck a pumpkin the farthest.
"It's not really about the pumpkins. I don't really have a grudge against pumpkins," said Dave Jordan, who started the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' festival eight years ago...
Caleigh Cross /
Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival: good, messy fun --
These days, the Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival is good fun for the whole family, even those who aren’t chuckin’. A grand prize is given for best design, which could give nods to helping hands — and add another $50 and first choice of prizes provided by local sponsors to the winning haul. The event also features a volleyball competition, balloon animals, face painting, wine and beer tents, live music and a chili cook-off, a free competition that invites master chili chefs across the county to clash over crock pots for the chance to win a cash prize...

Thank you Pumpkin Chuckin' Fans

Hi Pumpkin People,

Thank you to all of you for making the 8th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Festival a smashing success,

We' re still tying up loose ends and dealing with our day jobs, but we will have the final results posted ASAP.

We are also trying to finalize the accounting so so we can report how much money was made for the charity. But in the meantime, we would like to make a request to have team "Max Distance" contact Dave Jordan (603-630-4800, email:

Steven McCann, is the captain of team “Max Distance”. They won 2nd place in the Middleweight Junior Division, but did not collect their trophy and prize. The first place team could not use the canoe trip for two so they gave it to Max Distance, if they want it.

If Dave can get their address, he will mail the trophy and prize to them.

Thanks again everyone.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Countdown to 8th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

Countdown to 8th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival
Hi Pumpkin People,

Less than 5 days before the 8th annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin Festival held at the Stoweflake in Stowe, VT on Sunday Sept. 25th. Still time to make a trebuchet or make 2 gallons of chili to compete in the Chili Cook Off. Last year we had 26 trebuchet teams and 4 chili competitors. Grand prize for best trebuchet design is $100, the winner of each division gets $50. Check out the rules for height and weight limitations.

For the Chili Cook Off, we give $100 for 1st, $50 for 2nd and $25 for 3rd; the crowd votes for the best chili. Did I mention we only had 4 chili competitors last year?! Come on down people, just mix up 2 gallons of your best chili and compete! We provide free admission, a tent, electricity and chairs.

Last year was only the 2nd year that a heavyweight trebuchet won the competition with 509 feet. Every other year the Grand Prize has been won by the Middleweight Open Division. This year should be very tight; the 3 time champion is still in England, two previous winners are competing and we expect more teams than ever. We’ve seen the designs evolve from the simple 1000 year old design, to King Arthur, to Floating Arm, to Merlin, to something I call “The Stick” which fires by basically falling over. I can’t wait to see what shows up this year. Nick Helms is building a torsion catapult to “throw for show” and inspire others to make unique catapults.

House Dunn @housedunnmusic
There will be two bands, House Dunn and Jen and John playing throughout the festival starting at 11am. Stoweflake Resort will be selling beer, wine and great food. We’ll have face-painting, and balloon animals. The event is run rain or shine, feel free to bring chairs, blankets, canopies, umbrellas. No dogs or outside food please.

This year we are adding a Volleyball Challenge where teams of six can challenge the best doubles team in Vermont; Jon Halfcarhalftruck and Dalton Whitman. $5 per team to play, if you beat them you get your money back.

Here is the schedule of main events:

  • 11am competitors set up
  • 12:15: Welcome/introduction speech
  • 12:30 First round of firing, chili cook off, volleyball challenge, face-painting, balloon animals
  • 1:30 Second round
  • 2:30 Third round
  • 3:30 Prizes awarded

Hope to see you there!

Dave Jordan
Event Organizer

Morning show team tries pumpkin chuckin' --

Morning show team tries pumpkin chuckin'

Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival -- 5/5

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Stoweflake Resort and Spa to Host 8th Annual “Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival”

Just three weeks to go.Here is the press release for our 8th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' (VTPC) Festival, on Sunday, September 25th, 2016.

Stoweflake Resort and Spa to Host 8th Annual “Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival”
Proceeds of Sept. 25th, 2016 Event to Benefit the Lamoille Restorative Center
Stowe, Vermont, Aug. 11, 2016 – It is again time to get your pumpkin chuckin' trebuchet (gravity powered catapult) ready for the 8th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' (VTPC) Festival. Mark your calendar for Sunday, September 25th, 2016 at the Stoweflake Resort and Spa in Stowe, Vermont. The VTPC Festival is a fun, family event sponsored by the Stoweflake Resort and Spa and other local sponsors. The event benefits the Lamoille Restorative Center, which has a thirty-seven year history addressing unlawful behaviors, supporting victims of crime, and promoting healthy families and communities within the Lamoille Valley Region of Vermont. The event gives kids and adults a chance to build something with their hands and compete; a cross between a shot put contest and a Soap Box Derby.

The Festival runs from 11am to 4pm, and features three rounds of competitive pumpkin chuckin' at 12:30pm, 1:30pm and 2:30pm, with awards shortly after the last round. No dogs or outside food or beverage are allowed at the event. Admission to the Festival is $5 for ages 5 and over, free for 4 and under. Parking is $5 per car. Food, beer and wine will be sold by Stoweflake. Chili will also be available via a chili cookoff.

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 their trebuchets, a type of medieval siege weapon. The event has grown in size every year with roughly 2000 spectators last year. Last year twenty-six teams from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York competed in four different categories at the VTPC Festival.
Along with the pumpkin chuckin’ contest comes music, a chili cook-off, and great food; all creating an enjoyable fall day. Music for this year's festival will be provided by two bands; House Dunn, John and Jenn, which will be performing periodically from 11am to 4pm.

The festival has four categories of competition: Lightweight, Middleweight Junior, Middleweight Open and Heavyweight. Each category has height and weight limits to level the playing field.

Dave Jordan, enthusiastic founder (and competitor) of the festival says: "This is a fun competition modeled after the Soap Box Derby. The four categories each have their own mini-tournament and the four winners get a trophy, and $50 cash. The four winning teams then compete for the Grand Prize of Best Design. The Grand prize is awarded to the team that throws the farthest after adjusting for their trebuchet's height. The Grand prize winner gets an extra $50 cash and first choice of the prizes provided by local sponsors.”

It costs $5 to enter the competition (or to spectate). For the specifications, rules, and entry information please visit the festival's website ( for details.

Chili Cook-off: For $5 the public can get a sample of each competitor's concoction and vote for first, second and third place. First place gets $100, second get $50 and third gets $25. To compete, bring 2 gallons of chili to the event. Competitors receive free admission to the Festival, free exposure for their chili, and a chance of winning prize money.

To register or questions, contact Dave Jordan (below).INFO visit the festival's website at or contact the festival organizer Dave Jordan, Email:,

To volunteer
to help at the 8th VTPC, please contact Dave Jordan.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Trebuchet Rules Clarification

This is a clarification of how trebuchets are measured for classification in the different weight divisions: lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight. See the official rules for specifications.

The height of the trebuchet is the difference between the top and bottom.

The top is the highest point reached by the arm (including the finger) or the counterweight (CW) during firing. The bottom is the lowest point of the arm or counterweight during firing.

For a King Arthur trebuchet two measurements are made when the trebuchet is at rest; the highest point of the finger and the lowest point of the counterweight. Two measurements are made when the treb is loaded; the highest point of the counterweight and the lowest point of the finger. See figures 1 and 2.

King Arthur trebuchet two measurements are made when the trebuchet is at rest;

King Arthur trebuchet two measurements are made when the trebuchet is loaded

All four measurements are made from a convenient fixed level; the ground is a good level or the lowest point of the trebuchet.

The four measurements are:
  1. Highest point of finger at rest
  2. Lowest point of CW at rest
  3. Lowest point of finger when loaded
  4. Highest point of CW when loaded
The top is the highest of all four points and the bottom is the lowest of all four points. So the height of the trebuchet is simply the distance between the highest top and the lowest bottom.

See figures 3 and 4 for a floating point trebuchet measurements.

Floating Arm trebuchet two measurements are made when the trebuchet is at rest

Floating Arm trebuchet two measurements are made when the trebuchet is loaded

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

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Trebuchet Summer Round-up

Hi Hurlers,

There are now only 50 days until the 8th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Cuckin' Festival on Sept. 25th, 2016.

Time to get down to business and get your machines dialed in. In the meantime here are some hurling items that caught out eye:

There is an interesting article discussing trebuchets at from Quora. It does have one error when it states:
Trebuchets, because they don’t recoil in the same way as catapults, can be put on wheels. In fact, doing so is advantageous for their accuracy, as I understand it, because of the way it lets the whole machine absorb some of the forces involved. 
A trebuchet on wheels loses distance on its throws. The wheels rob the full transfer of energy from the counter-weight to the throwing arm. A trebuchet should be anchored to the ground to be most efficient. There is no real debate about that. Wheels would probably make it easier to line up a trebuchet, but taking time and adjusting a grounded trebuchet will make it just as accurate, plus it will have more distance, than a wheeled version.

Roman catapult
Roman catapult
What Are the Tactical Advantages of a Trebuchet Over a Catapult --
A trebuchet is a device for attacking fortifications. Roughly speaking, a trebuchet has a few advantages over a catapult. First, it can handle heavier projectiles. A catapult’s maximum weight tops out at about 180 pounds; trebuchets top out at about 350. Second, compared with a torsion engine, it’s a fairly robust machine. Lastly, for a given weight of stone, the trebuchet has a longer range. The big ones there, of course, are the maximum projectile weight and range. When your objective is to smash stone fortifications, being able to throw bigger stones from farther away is certainly a desirable trait...
This Game of Thrones trebuchet looks good, but it has several problems as Scott Manning points out.

Scott Manning / Historian On the Warpath:
3 Problems with This Game of Thrones Trebuchet --
Yes, I’m critiquing the plausibility of this trebuchet while ignoring the dragons.

The “Battle of the Bastards” episode from Game of Thrones introduced a new twist on the trebuchet, utilizing gravity but defying physics and logic.

It was in the background of the siege of Meereen. Blink and you’ll miss it.

Like a trebuchet, the machine utilizes gravity to propel an object toward a target. However, there are some major problems with this machine.

1.) The counterweight just isn’t enough

Instead of a traditional counterweight, there is a mini-rollercoaster that sends the entire arm down before flinging it forward. This is an adoption of a modern design affectionately named Merlin (thanks to Son_of_mogh for pointing this out)...
How about a quick history lesson with some art thrown in (pun intended)?

GroovyHistorian ‏ / Twitter:
#Medieval traction trebuchet (also called a perrier) next to a staff slinger #history amazing !!

traction trebuchet (also called a perrier)

They are getting their big boy treb ready in upstate New York.

Eagle News:
Boris undergoing repairs. The trebuchet at Our Farm needed to have its throwing arm replaced after it cracked.
Boris undergoing repairs. The trebuchet at Our Farm needed to have its throwing arm replaced after it cracked. Courtesy Our Farm.

Boris the trebuchet got a “heart transplant” recently at the Golub family’s Our Farm on Peth Road in Cazenovia/Manlius — and now the 10-year-old pumpkin launching machine is ready to keep on chucking fruit for a long time to come...
See you in September.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Have trebuchet, will travel?

Please contact Eileen Cody, if you have a trebuchet and can help her out on August 15th in Dannemora, NY, which is 15 miles (21 minutes) west of Plattsburg, NY. Thanks.

Dear Dave,

I have an unusual request.  I am looking for someone who has a catapult or trebuchet that would be willing to come to our final summer reading session and demonstrate for the kids.  I think this would be hugely popular and wonderful for the kids to see. Please let me know if you can help.  The date would be August 15, 2016 at 11:30 am.  I appreciate any help you can give me.

Thanks again,

Eileen Cody, Director Dannemora Free Library, 40 Emmons St., Dannemora, NY 12929, tel: 518-492-7005, email:


VTPC Festival fan Bull Smith took his HCW (hinged counterweight) trebuchet to the August 15th event to help out.

A very big thank you to Bull Smith.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Duct Tape Trebuchet – MythBusters Final Season, Final Fling

The MythBusters made a duct tape trebuchet for their final episode that aired March 6, 2016 on the Science Channel. The Science Channel will now be the new home for all their reruns.  The myth was confirmed: the massive duct tape trebuchet did hold together and work without the use of any nuts, bolts, pins, screws, or any fasteners other than the "miracle material" duct tape.

They made a very large trebuchet. It was the largest duct tape build in the show's 14 year history. They used 2,600 lbs. of pine board, 78 rolls of duct tape, and had a 750 lb. engine block as their counterweight. The first test fire of a watermelon went 171 feet. They then used their weapon of war to destroy an inflatable shark waterslide with a flaming Molotov cocktail. And with this final fling the MythBusters signed off.

Duct tape was the focus of 25 stories, including five with duct tape boats. In all duct tape myths were confirmed 21 times during the show's long run. They ended up using over 5000 rolls of duct tape (about 83 miles). This final build should certainly give all builders some ideas about the versatility of duct tape.

MythBusters adjust their duct tape trebuchet

Duct tape trebuchet

Adam Savage makes small model of trebuchet
MythBusters - Duct Tape Trebuchet
MythBusters Episode 248: Duct Tape: The Return --
Premier Date: March 6, 2016

This was the last new episode of MythBusters to ever air. It premiered one day after the Grande Finale to promote the Science Channel as the future home of MythBusters reruns.

It is possible to build a fully-functional trebuchet held together only by duct tape.


Adam built a small-scale model trebuchet using wooden beams and duct tape and fine-tuned its design. Jamie developed construction methods designed to withstand the significant forces involved and incorporated them into his own model.

At a large field, they began assembly; the full-scale trebuchet used 78 rolls of tape, 2,600 pounds (1,200 kg) of construction lumber, and a 750-pound (340-kg) automobile engine block as the counterweight. A test shot with a watermelon as the projectile achieved a range of 171 feet (52 m) and the structure remained intact. To simulate using their trebuchet in combat, they launched a Molotov cocktail to a distance of over 100 feet (30 m), and then launched another to ignite a giant inflatable shark set up at that same distance.