Thursday, September 29, 2022

Results of Sept. 25th, 2022 — 13th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

We had a mostly clear day at the Mayo Event Fields in Stowe for the thirteenth annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival with 9 teams competing in the chuck, 4 teams in the Chili Cookoff, 3 food trucks, 31 volunteers and over 1000 spectators enjoying the chuckin', chili, food, band, kid activities, volleyball tournament, games and a tortoise roaming the field. We believe we have the longest active running trebuchet contest in the US. Over $14,000 was raised for the Clarina Howard Nichols Center (Morrisville) whose staff and volunteers did an amazing job running the festival. The Clarina Howard Nichols Center is doing great work combating domestic and sexual violence and they did a fantastic job running the festival for the fourth year in a row!

Two new event records by the Stapleton dynasty and their amazing “Walking Arm” design: Once again the Stapleton family with their unique “walking arm” trebuchet design dominated the competition with 2 new event records in both the middleweight and heavyweight divisions. Because their design is superior and Jonathan Stapleton was nice enough to put up a tutorial on how to build and scale their design on, their design was copied by most of the other competitors, only 1 floating arm design, 1 King Arthur design, and none of the 1000-year-old standard design were represented, whereas in the first festival (2009) ALL of the trebuchets were of the standard 1000-year-old design. Check out the past year's festival summary below to see how the design and best distances have evolved from 2009 to 2022.

Jonathan Stapleton's Walking Arm Trebuchet threw a 5 lb. pumpkin 798 ft. 

Why the Walking Arm design is the best in the world:
The current world record for throwing an 8-pound pumpkin with a trebuchet is 3,377 feet set in 2019 by Colossal Thunder at Punkin Chunkin, Rantoul, Illinois. This is a staggering accomplishment, but they were not limited by height and weight like our festival. By limiting the height and weight in each division we ensure that each competitor has exactly the same amount of potential energy, so their success or failure comes down to efficiency in design and implementation. The theoretical maximum distance a trebuchet can throw is 2 x (weight of trebuchet) x (height of trebuchet) / (weight of pumpkin). In our competition a heavyweight trebuchet is limited to 500 pounds (total weight) and 10 feet (height) so the theoretical limit that a heavyweight trebuchet can throw a 5-pound pumpkin is 2x500x10/5 = 2000 feet. This is theoretical because we are ignoring air resistance, friction and assuming that the arm and frame weigh zero and all 500 pounds is in the counterweight. Jonathan Stapleton’s heavyweight threw 780 feet out of a possible 2000 so its efficiency is 780/2000 or 39%. Colossal Thunder’s height is 24 feet, and the counterweight alone is 5000 pounds so the theoretical limit it can throw an 8-pound pumpkin is 2x5000x24/8 = 30,000 feet. Since it threw 3,377 its efficiency is 3,377/30,000 or 11%. If Colossal Thunder design was scaled down to compete in our festival in the heavyweight category it would throw 228 feet. If Colossal Thunder actually entered our heavyweight competition their 3,377 feet throw would have been “adjusted” for being overweight and over height to make it fair for the other competitors. Since we weigh the total trebuchet, not just the counterweight, Colossal Thunder would be awarded less than 190 feet assuming that their frame and arm weighed at least 1000 pounds. This is not to say that Colossal Thunder isn’t a laudable marvel in its own right — merely that in our engineering-focused competition it can’t measure up. Another indicator of the walking arm’s efficiency is the movement or lack of movement after the pumpkin has left the trebuchet. The arm simply falls to the ground after the throw. This shows that almost all of the potential energy in the counterweight has been efficiently transferred to kinetic energy in the pumpkin. Colossal Thunder’s arm and counterweight are still thrashing around long after the pumpkin has left indicating lots of wasted energy since all the motion of those heavy parts had to come from somewhere. By measuring efficiency, the walking arm design beats Colossal Thunder by 39% to 11%.

First annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Invitational Volleyball Quads tournament:
Ryan Rabidou promoted and ran a volleyball tournament with ten teams during the festival gathering the best players in Vermont and New York. The winners of $100 cash prize were Ryan Rabidou, Nick Pizzuti, Alex Richard, Jeremiah Ward. Second place went to Carter Peck, Shawn McBride, Lauren Brough and Michala Dean. Next year Ryan anticipates a much bigger tournament with as many as 20 teams.

Dolores the Tortoise:
Kelly Carrick brought Dolores, her well-behaved 30-pound tortoise to enjoy the festival. During the 2nd round Dolores happened to be enjoying the festival directly in front of a huge catapult preparing to fire a 5-pound pumpkin. Kelly was alerted to the impending danger and instructed Dolores to crawl out of the way. She started crawling at a glacial pace when Kelly picked her up and moved her out of harm’s way. Shortly thereafter the pumpkin fired in a line drive and rolled directly over the patch of grass that Dolores just vacated. Thirteen years of pumpkin chuckin and no people or tortoises have been harmed!

Past year's festival summary:
Each year people ask how many teams compete, what type of design won and what
distance was the best throw. So here is a summary of interesting facts:

YEAR teams Division Design Winner distance (feet)
2009 6 Heavyweight standard Dave Barrows 139
2010 18 Middleweight standard Wayne Powell 230
2011 14 Middleweight float arm Tobey Betthauser 223
2012 18 Middleweight float arm Dwight Snowberger 437
2013 19 Middleweight float arm Dwight Snowberger 596
2014 12 Middleweight King Arthur Don Jordan 513
2015 26 Heavyweight float arm Chris McGrody 520
2016 18 Heavyweight King Arthur Dave Jordan 689
2017 12 Middleweight float arm Ray Chamberlin 509
2018 17 Lightweight Walk Stick Orion Stapleton 780
2019 14 Lightweight Walk Stick Orion Stapleton 658
2020 0 Not held due to COVID-19
2021 10 Heavyweight Walk Stick Jonathan Stapleton 750
2022 9 Middleweight Walk Stick Orion Stapleton 810

Results of the trebuchet contest (all distances adjusted based on height and weight):
Lightweight Division (age 10 and under, trebuchet limited to 20 lbs. and 41”)
No contestants this year.

Middleweight Junior Division (age 17 and under, trebuchet limited to 100 lbs. and 70”)
1st place $100 cash: Orion Stapleton, 810 feet.
2nd place $50 cash: Owen Christman, 429 feet.

Middleweight Open Division: (any age, trebuchet limited to 100 lbs. and 70”)
1st place $100 cash: Tyler Barnard, 483 feet.
2nd place $50 cash: Steve McCann, 435 feet.
3rd place no cash: Dave Jordan, 0 feet.

Heavyweight Division: (any age, trebuchet limited to 500 lbs. and 120”)
1st place $100 cash: Jonathan Stapleton, 792 feet.
2nd place $50 cash: Nick Helms, 262 feet.
Grand Prize Best Design $50 cash: Orion Stapleton, 810 feet.

Chili Cookoff:
The chili cookoff was a great success with four competitors and running out of chili
before the end of the festival.
1st place $100 cash: Deb Longe
2nd place $50 cash: Carter Peck
Tied for 3rd place $25 cash each to: Lyn Goldsmith and Charley Pineles-Mark.

Two Sons, Community National Bank, Commodities Natural Market, Union Bank, Piecasso Pizzeria and Lounge, Coldwell Banker/Carlson Real Estate, In Company, Leaves of Change VT, Cork Restaurant and Natural Wine Shop, Nye Mechworks, Points North Physical Therapy, Nichols and Associates/Attorneys at Law, The MSI Group, N.A. Manosh, Donald P. Blake, Jr. Inc., Yellow Turtle, Genevieve Thompson Pilates, Edwards Jones - Caren Merson, Casella and the Stowe UPS Store.

Thanks for Becky Gonyea and her planning, promoting, leadership and army of volunteers which did everything from setup, running the chili cookoff, ticketing, kid activities and cleanup afterwards. Thanks to House Dunn (Mike, Isabella, Jocelyn and Julie) for bringing their band and audio support for the event. Thanks to Sean Morrissey and Jake St. Pierre for being the masters of ceremonies, Amy and Molly for registration and distance recording, to Brian Yeaton and his Stowe HS students for parking, setup and accurately and efficiently measuring the distances. Thanks for Ryan Rabidou for promoting, organizing and running the first annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin Invitational Volleyball Quads tournament and to Mike Adams for using his drone and video editing skills to product and awesome video of the event, free of charge. The video will be up on the blog soon, if it isn’t already there. Thanks for Princess Dolores the Tortoise and her partner Kelly Carrick.

Please contact me with any suggestions for next year's festival or corrections to this

We look forward to the next festival, Sept. 24th, 2022, at the Mayo Field in Stowe.

Dave Jordan
Festival organizer
161 Henway Road
Morrisville, VT 05661

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

13th Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival - World Records Were Set

We will provide a full and proper write-up of the 13th Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival shortly, but we will give you a preview of what the headline will be. The story is that Vermont's own Stapleton family has done it again. That is, setting world records for trebuchet pumpkin chuckin'. The pumpkin hurling that was on display this year at Stowe surpassed all previous years.

We can proudly state that the trebuchets competing at VTPC #13 are "pound-for-pound" the most efficient and powerful trebuchets in the world, for any trebuchet weighing more than 100 lbs.

With that said. There were some very nice pictures, stories, and videos that came out of this year's festival. Here is a short round-up of some of that coverage. A big thank-you, to everyone again who volunteered, supported, and attended the festival this year. Thank-you, thank-you!!

Here's a story from WMUR-TV:
Participants use contraptions to throw pumpkins long distances at Vermont festival --

WMUR-TV story about VTPC

Mark Donnell posted some great pics and a video on Facebook:

Mark Donnell pic from Facebook

Mark Adams sent us an excellent drone video of the festival that we posted on our Facebook page. Thank you, Mark!

Mark Adams drone video of 13th VTPC

Friday, September 23, 2022

Reminder: New Location this Year - Mayo Farm Event Fields, 120 Weeks Hill Rd., Stowe, Vermont

New location: Mayo Farm Event Fields, 120 Weeks Hill Rd., Stowe

Just a Reminder: There is a new location this year for the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

This year we are at the Mayo Farm Event Fields, at 120 Weeks Hill Rd, Stowe, Vermont. This location is only 0.7 miles (2 minutes) from downtown Stowe. Just go up Mountain Rd. (Route 108) 0.6 miles, take a right on Weeks Hill Rd., and you are there. We are not at Stoweflake. So, we hope to see you all there, this Sunday, September 25th. #VTPC #festival

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Up and Running

We are hoping Nick Helms can get his big trebuchet up and running for the festival. He always puts on a good show. Go Nick! #VTPC #trebuchet

Nick Helms getting ready for Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival
The catapult is very much a version 1 prototype. Plenty of things to improve on already. I’m hoping with the resources I have at hand it will at least have some kind of positive impression.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Only 6 Days Until the 13th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

We are in the final countdown to VTPC No. 13, on this upcoming Sunday, September 25th. So, as we get ready for the big day, we want to send a shout-out to all the great sponsors that we have this year.

2022 VTPC Poster

Monday, September 12, 2022

Pumpkin Chuckin' Update - 13 Days to go

Hi Folks,

Here are some updates on our upcoming 13th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival on September 25th.

First note.
Attention: All "TREBUCHET TEAMS - We expect a lot of competitors this year so please fill out our entry form and send it in to Dave Jordan ( as soon as possible in order to reserve your spot in the festival and on the hurling line. This helps us plan space accordingly for the different divisions. Thanks!

Pizza on Main
Second, the food options this year will be a big upgrade from previous years. We are scheduled to have the following food establishments at the festival, plus maybe a surprise or two:

So, bring your appetite to the festival and enjoy a great lunch over with us at the Mayo Farm Event Fields in Stowe.

Third, a reminder that all proceeds from this festival benefit the Clarina Howard Nichols Center in Morrisville, VT. The center was founded in 1981 and works to end domestic and sexual violence in Lamoille County.

Fourth, if you are visiting Stowe, checkout the website for more information on where to shop, stay, and play in the Stowe area.

Finally, we had this request come in from Marty in East Randolph, VT.
My name is Marty Bascom and our church is having a fall festival Saturday October 1. I would love to have an expert come in and give our folks a demonstration (of a trebuchet). Do you know if there is anyone in Central Vermont that might be interested in coming to East Randolph Saturday October 1? Thanks ...
Marty Bascom (email: 
East Randolph Baptist Church
So please give Marty a shout out if you can help him out.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Pumpkins Fly in 16 Days - September 25th - 13th Annual VT Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival

There are now only 16 days until the 13th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival. Fall comes early in Vermont. We have the festival in the early part of fall (this year on Sunday, September 25th) because the weather is usually great, the leaves are already starting to turn colors, and with the start of school and all that, it feels like a fresh start. So, mark your calendars and tell all your friends.

We are so pleased and excited to have House Dunn again providing the music at the festival this year. House Dunn plays mostly covers of "90's to Now" hits, with a few originals thrown in. Some of their set list includes Adele, Gotye, Blind Melon, Of Monsters and Men, The Lumineers, and Train.

Also, kids or anyone else, it is not too late to become part of the action. Building a simple Stapleton "Walking Arm" trebuchet and competing in the VTPC contest is very straight forward. Here is our introduction on how to quickly build the elegant and powerful Stapleton "Walking Arm" trebuchet. 

Our lightweight division for children age 10 and under only needs a relatively small 20 lbs., 41" trebuchet to compete.  Middleweight size trebuchets for teenagers or the adult division need to be under 100 lbs. and 70." These smaller scale trebuchets that can still throw hundreds of feet make the VTPC unique among the fall pumpkin chuckin' contests. These smaller trebuchets can still compete for best overall trebuchet by virtue of the scaling of their size that goes into awarding the "Best Design." Each of our divisions is 1.71 times taller than the division below it so they can easily be compared against each other to award an overall "Best Design."

Here is our entry information and rules page for anyone who is interested. If you have any questions or need and any clarification about the chuckin' or the festival, please contact our festival organizer, Dave Jordan, at phone: (603) 630-4800 or email:

As a rewarding footnote, VTPC also might be the only fall pumpkin chuckin' contest that offers prize money to its winners in each division.

By the way, do you know what the difference is between a catapult and a trebuchet? Well, it's a toss-up... Anyway, hope to see you all soon at the 13th VTPC.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

13th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival (VTPC) is in 25 days!

Hurry, Hurry! There are now only 25 days until the 13th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival! Here is our press release talking about all the great stuff going on at the festival:

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

13th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival
Held at the Mayo event field, Weeks Hill Road in Stowe, VT
Proceeds of September 25th event to benefit Clarina Howard Nichols Center

Stowe, Vermont, Aug. 1, 2022: This year marks 13 years of the Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin Festival (VTPC) which was awarded USA Today’s best fall festival in the nation. This festival celebrates the sport of “chuckin” pumpkins, for distance, using a do-it-yourself constructed trebuchet, which is a 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 of all ages to build something with their hands and engage in some family friendly competition. The current record, set last year is 780 feet!

The VTPC Festival is a one-day event that 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 25th , 2022. 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, outside food or beverage are allowed at the event. Admission to the Festival is $10 and parking is free. Free to 5 years and younger. New this year will be a variety of food trucks! 

Along with the pumpkin chuckin' contest there will be music, a chili cook-off, a giant robot demo 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 or chili cook-off. There is plenty of time to build a fine trebuchet, or prepare your best chili for the chili cook-off. It costs $10 to enter the festival if you are a spectator or trebuchet competitor, but you get in free if you make 2 gallons of chili and compete in the chili cookoff. Chili must be on-site by 11:30am.

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