Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Results of the 10th annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin Festival

Results of the 10th annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival (Sept. 30, 2018):

We had a beautiful day at the Stoweflake Resort and Spa for the 10th annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin Festival with 16 trebuchet teams competing and one spring-loaded catapult in the “throw for show” category. We also had 6 teams competing in the Chili Cookoff, two bands playing, and plenty of free kid activities like face-painting and tic-tac-toe. All the money raised went towards the Clarina Howard Nichols Center which aims to prevent domestic and sexual violence. This was the Clarina Howard Center’s first time running the event and they did an excellent job.

Father/Son sweep!

Two years ago we had a Father/Son sweep when Dave Jordan won the Grand Champion Best Design with a record-breaking throw of 689 feet and his dad, Don Jordan won the hyper-competitive Middleweight Open Division. This year, Jonathan Stapleton’s “walking arm” trebuchet threw a record-breaking 700 feet (we still haven’t found the pumpkin yet) and his son Orion, threw an ever more amazing 780 feet (scaled up) in the Lightweight division (also a new record). This is the first time in the history of the festival that a Lightweight competitor won the Grand Prize. Both competitors used a unique design which is described as a stick falling over with a huge counterweight on top of the stick. When the “stick” falls about halfway down, it lands on the triangular frame which causes the other end of the stick to violently jerk upwards. The pumpkin starts UNDER the stick in the sling and when the stick jerks up the pumpkin is slung like a soccer player doing a flip before a throw in.


All distances are scaled up to what they would throw if they were 10 feet tall (the Heavyweight max height). If any of the trebuchets are over-height or overweight, there is a penalty proportional to the amount they are over. For example, if a trebuchet is 5% overweight or over-height, they are penalized roughly 5% to make it fair for all the competitors.

Lightweight Division: Limited to kids 10 and under, trebuchet must be under 41” and 20 pounds, they throw a gourd that weighs at least 3 ounces:
  1. First place: Demolisher, Orion Stapleton, 266 feet, scaled up to 780 feet ($100 cash and first place Lightweight trophy) 
  2. Second place: Elephant 1, Theresa, 86 feet, scaled up to 251 feet (second place Lightweight trophy) 
  3. Third place: Draft 1, Gwendolyn Johnson, 96 feet, scaled up to 212 feet (penalty for over-height or overweight) (third place Lightweight trophy) 
  4. Fourth place: Elephant 2, Theresa, 69 feet, scaled up to 202 feet 
  5. Fifth place: Kitty, Theresa, 46 feet, scaled up to 135 feet

Middleweight Junior Division: Limited to kids 17 and under, trebuchet must be under 70” and 100 pounds, they throw a pumpkin that weighs at least 1 pound:
  1. First place: Girls Rock, Tom Knight, 199 feet, scaled up to 341 feet ($50 cash and first place Middleweight Junior trophy) 
  2. Second place: Max D 23, Steven McCann, 174 feet, scaled up to 299 feet (second place Middleweight Junior trophy) 
  3. Third place: Tamed Lightning, Ethan Garrison, 168 feet, scaled up to 183 feet (penalty for overheight or overweight) (third place Middleweight Junior trophy) 

Middleweight Open Division: Open to all ages, trebuchet must be under 70” and 100 pounds, they throw a pumpkin that weighs at least 1 pound:
  1. First place: Max D 23, Steven McCann, 172 feet, scaled up to 295 feet ($50 cash and first place Middleweight Open trophy) 
  2. Second place: Team Jordan, Don Jordan, 90 feet, scaled up to 154 feet (second place Middleweight Open trophy) 
  3. Third place: Welands Sword, Barclay Johnson, 80 feet, scaled up to 132 feet (third place Middleweight Open trophy)

Heavyweight Division: Open to all ages, trebuchet must be under 10 feet and 500 pounds, they throw a pumpkin that weighs at least 5 pounds:

  1. First place: Controlled Chaos, Jonathan Stapleton, 700 feet, scaled to 700 feet (new world record in the heavyweight division) ($50 cash and first place Heavyweight trophy)
  2. Second place: Weapons of Medieval Destruction, Nick Helms, 381 feet, scaled up to 293 (penalty for overheight or overweight) (second place Heavyweight trophy)
  3. Third place: Yankee Light, Kathy Sieger, 69 feet, scaled to 63 feet (penalty for overheight or overweight) (third place Heavyweight trophy)
  4. Fourth place: Redneck Wreckers, Ryan Brown, 43 feet, scaled up to 43 feet
  5. Fifth place: Boomer, Dave Jordan, 0 feet, scaled up to 0 feet

Grand Champion Best Design: Demolisher, Orion Stapleton, 266 feet, scaled up to 780 feet (a new world record in the competition and lightweight division)

Throw for show category:
We allow other types of catapults (as long as they are safe) and Xander brought his spring-loaded catapult and restricted his springs to throw within the field for our spectator’s enjoyment and safety. Thanks Xander!

Chili Cookoff results:

We had six competitors in the chili cookoff with the spectators voting with their stomachs. Thanks to Deb’s Place for volunteering to run the cookoff.
  1. First prize: Sweet Kicken Chicken Chili, $100 cash and first place trophy
  2. Second prize: Deb’s Place, $50 cash and second place trophy
  3. Third prize: Sunset Grill, $25 cash and third place trophy 
John Smyth played his original music while the competitors set up and then House Dunn (Mike Dunn, Isabela Dunn and Jocelyn Dunn) took over and rocked the festival until the end. House Dunn also provided the sound system for the festival so our Master of Ceremonies could be heard throughout the field.

Thanks to our sponsors:
A big thanks to our main sponsor, the Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa for letting us use their beautiful event field for free. Thanks to the other sponsors:

Heavyweight category:
  • North Country Federal Credit Union 

Middleweight category:
  • Casella
  • Community National Bank
  • Union Bank 

Lightweight category:
  • MSI Group
  • Donald Blake Junior, Inc.
  • Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley
  • Edward Jones
  • Stowe UPS store
  • Alchemist
  • Stowe Soaring
  • Umiak
  • Stowe Motel
  • Deb’s Place
  • PP&D Brochure Distribution


Thanks to our Master of Ceremonies, Bruce Wallace and his family who has come up the last 8 years from Connecticut; John Prittie who also came up from Connecticut to help run things, spot pumpkins and set up safety lines, Tom Wachtler and Nikki Williams for doing the record keeping and registration; Bob Gross for weighing and measuring the trebuchets; Dan McLaughlin for helping transport, setup and break down the music tent; Richard Spreda for repairing Don Jordan’s trebuchet so he could compete; Kevin and Philana Armstrong for preparing to run the cornhole tournament, even though it was cancelled.

And a special thanks to Becky Gonyea the executive director of the Clarina Howard Nichols Center for helping run, plan and execute the event with the help of her twenty volunteers. They were responsible for parking, collecting money, selling T-shirts, providing free kid events and probably a lot of other things that I was not aware of.

We look forward to the next festival planned for September 29, 2019!

Dave Jordan
Festival organizer
161 Henway Road
Morrisville, VT 05661

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Let's Get Ready to Hurl - Trebuchets On Your Mark

It is now less than 24 hours to go until our 10th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival kicks off Sunday, Sept. 30th, at Stoweflake Mountain Resort (11am - 4pm).

Just a reminder now of how much work goes into building a quality trebuchet. Here is a high level trebuchet build in four videos by tech Youtuber Tom Stanton (124,782 subscribers) that was posted over on the website, enjoy:

Trebucheting Tennis Balls at 124 MPH
A trebuchet is one of the older machines of war. It’s basically a sling on a frame, with a weight that you can lift up high and which pulls the sling arm over on release. Making one opens up the doors to backyard mayhem, but optimizing one opens up the wonders of physics.

[Tom Stanton] covers just about everything you need to know about trebuchet building in his four-part video series. Indeed, he sums it up in video two: you’ve got some potential energy in the weight, and you want to transfer as much of that as possible to the ball. This implies that the optimal path for the weight would be straight down, but then there’s the axle in the way. The rest, as they say, is mechanical engineering...

Video three was the most interesting... [Tom] already had some strange arm design that intends to get the weight partially around the axle, but he’s still getting low efficiencies, so he builds a trebuchet on wheels — the classic solution. Along the way, he takes a ton of measurements with Physlets Tracker, which does video analysis to extract physical measurements. That tip alone is worth the price of admission, but when the ball tops out at 124 mph, you gotta cheer.

In video four, [Tom] plays around with the weight of the projectile and discovers that he’s putting spin on his tennis ball, making it curve in flight. Who knew? 

A picture of a War Machine getting loaded up to come to our 10th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival:

Heavyweight Trebuchet gets loaded up to come to 10th VTPC

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Countdown to 10th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

Only 5 days to our 10th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on Sunday, September 30th, at Stoweflake Mountain Resort (11am - 4pm).

Hope everyone is enjoying the start of the fall season. We are ready to hurl some pumpkins. However, some last minute testing, fine tuning, and yes, repairing of the pumpkin chuckin' trebuchets is probably in order. Here's one trebuchet that had a serious misfire during testing that will require some major patching up.

Hope your pumpkin hurling machine is faring better.


By the way, here's a nice write-up of the festival:

Natalie Clunan /
If You Attend One Pumpkin Festival In Vermont This Fall Make It This One -- Autumn is brimming with exciting activities. Apple picking, trick or treating, and leaf peeping are just a few ways to celebrate the season. But if you are looking for something a bit more out of the ordinary, this Vermont pumpkin festival has you covered. For an afternoon full of exciting fall fun, take in the Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival in Stowe...

Thursday, August 23, 2018

10th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival Press Release


Contact Person: Dave Jordan
Charity Name: Clarina Howard Nichols Center, Morrisville, Vermont
Phone: 603-630-4800

10th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival

Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa to Host 2018 Festival

Proceeds of September 30th event to benefit Clarina Howard Nichols Center

Stowe, Vermont, Aug. 19, 2018 – This year marks 10 years of the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin’ (VTPC) Festival. This festival celebrates the sport of “chuckin’” pumpkins, for distance, using a do-it-yourself constructed trebuchet or gravity-powered catapult. Festival founder, Dave Jordan, describes the event as a cross between a Soap Box Derby (amateur building/engineering) and a shot put contest (throwing for distance). The event is a great opportunity for kids and adults of all ages to build something with their hands and engage in some family friendly competition. Records have been broken almost every year; the current record is 689 feet! Cash, prizes, trophies and bragging rights are awarded to 3 best teams in each of 4 divisions as well as the 3 best chilis and 3 best cornhole teams.

The VTPC Festival is one-day event and has grown every year. This event is sponsored by the Stoweflake Resort and Spa and many other local sponsors. The event benefits the Clarina Howard Nichols Center. Founded in 1981, the Center works to end domestic and sexual violence in Lamoille County.

Mark your calendar for Sunday, September 30th, 2018. 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. Food, beer and wine will be sold by Stoweflake.

Along with the pumpkin chuckin’ contest there will be music, a chili cook-off, cornhole tournament and kids activities; all creating an enjoyable fall day. Music for this year's festival will be provided by two bands; House Dunn and John Smyth. No preregistration is required for the trebuchet contest, chili cookoff or cornhole tournament. Plenty of time to build a fine trebuchet, prepare your chili or practice your cornhole skills.

It costs $10 to enter the festival whether you are a spectator or trebuchet competitor; an extra $10/person to enter the cornhole tournament; the chili cookoff is totally free, but you must make 2 gallons of your finest chili. Parking is free.

INFO: Specifications, rules, and entry information can be found on the festival's website at or contact the festival organizer Dave Jordan, 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Building a better trebuchet / Cornhole Anyone?

So we are now only 41 days away from this year's 10th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on Sunday, September 30, 2018, at Stoweflake Mountain Resort, Stowe, Vermont.

New truss throwing arm for Boomer Trebuchet
New truss-based throwing arm for Boomer Trebuchet
One of the key engineering decisions regarding building a trebuchet for the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' competition is now much weigh to allocate to the throwing arm, versus the counter-weight.

If you over engineer your arm, and give it too much weight, you will be sacrificing weight that could be used on the counter-weight to give you more force in the thrown. Throw force is proportional to the weight of the counter-weight and the distance that it is dropping.

Here above is a picture from Dave Jordan's newly designed heavyweight trebuchet throwing arm (heavyweights have a maximum weight limit of 500 lbs). Dave is cutting down the weight of the throwing arm by building it more like a truss bridge. A truss bridge is a bridge whose load-bearing superstructure is composed of a truss, a structure of connected elements forming triangular units. The connected elements (typically straight) may be stressed from tension, compression, or sometimes both in response to dynamic loads.

By building a truss trebuchet arm, the goal is to make the arm as light as possible without failing. Dave is running tests to see at what force the arm fails, he then adds back just a little more strength to his truss arm so that it won't fail under his projected throw force.

Understanding the math behind bearing loads on a truss structure is a core skill for any engineering student.

Example of engineering truss force diagram for a bridge
Cornhole Anyone?

This year along with the Pumpkin Chuckin', Chili Cook-off contest, live music, food, etc.we are also planning on having a doubles Cornhole Tournament. We like the idea of adding another form of throwing organic farm produce through the air to our festival. More info will be provide shortly about the tournament. We are in the process of getting a tournament director on board.

Cornhole: throwing farm produce for pleasure
Cornhole: throwing farm produce for pleasure
One of the fun things will be coming up with a good name for your doubles cornhole team. Some of our favorites: Men of the Husk, Boss of the Toss, or Driving Miss Maizey.

All proceeds from the 10th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival will go to benefit the non-profit Clarina Howard Nichols Center.

Clarina Howard Nichols Center
Founded in 1981, the Clarina Howard Nichols Center works to end domestic and sexual violence in Lamoille County. Clarina provides advocacy programs, emergency shelter, support and direct services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence as well as community outreach programs to affect social change.

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