Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

Every year, during the brisk season of fall, comes some of the greatest treats that have captured the taste buds and hearts of Americans for years. Warm pumpkin pie, apple pie, pumpkin spiced coffee, hot apple cider, and sweet candy corn are only some of the many delicious things we look forward to.
Of course, at the top of this list are pumpkins which come in many sizes and can be used in many ways. Not only are they used in recipes to make your taste buds happy, they are used for the art of carving, decorating for the holidays, and as it turns out, for the fun of launching through the air! Watching a pumpkin being launched while eating some of the most mouth-watering food is a treat I look forward to every year, and there is only one place I know where I can do both at the same time.
Although there are things to go see and do in the month of November, there is only one place to go where you can see a real pumpkin being catapulted for thousands of feet from a man-made launching machine, and that is at the World Championship Punkin Chunkin in Bridgeville, DE. Selected as one of 100 top events by the American Bus Association, The World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association is a trademark nonprofit organization that helps raise money for scholarships, youths, and the local community. They contribute a share of their proceeds to other non profit organizations such as the Autism Foundation, Bless Our Children, Child Help, Lewes Meals on Wheels, St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital, along with others that make life better for those in need.
Without the use of electricity or explosives, the engineers behind these machines put their skills to the test and compete to see who can launch their pumpkin the farthest. Teams compete in divisions such as air cannon, centrifugal, catapult, human power, trebuchet, theatrical and torsion. The competition is divided into three classes: Adult (18 and older), Youth (11 to17) and Youth (under age 10). However, there are rules, which make the competition even more thrilling. The following rules apply to all of those participating in the competition: The pumpkins must weigh between eight to 10 pounds. All pumpkins fired must remain intact until they impact the ground to obtain an official measurement. No part of the machine shall cross the firing line. No wadding can be used in the machines (including bean chaff, straw, foam, metal, or any other object). No explosives are allowed. Machines can have either springs, rubber cords, counterweights, compressed air or any other devices that use the stored power of one human being. And last but not least, competitors only have one chance at launching their pumpkin! One shot, one chance, one pumpkin.
At this entertaining and exhilarating three day festival, there are many things to do besides watching a bright orange pumpkin being shot through the air like a missile. As a die hard Punkin Chunkin fan, I have seen first-hand what the festival has to offer. I was completely overwhelmed with excitement the first time I attended a Punkin Chunkin festival when I approached the numerous amount of food stands. As a food lover, I love the choice of having a variety of juicy goods to choose from; I did not even know where to begin. Although the unique game of launching pumpkins in the air attracts people from all over, the food itself is worth the trip. No matter what type of food you are into, there is enough variety to please even the pickiest of eaters. With the freshly cooked food and baked goods, it is almost impossible to find something that does not spark your interest.
Among the many vendors are Sensenig’s Meats & Catering, which sells the most mouth-watering barbeque smoked turkey legs, barbeque ribs, and barbeque chicken the festival has to offer. One scrumptious bite of that barbeque smoked turkey leg will send a shock full of succulent flavor through your entire body. Trust me, I have tried it. If you are looking for a place with other options, take a walk over to Rita Anne’s Kitchen. It is worth standing in line for a juicy Philly cheesesteak, Italian sausage sandwich, hot dog, or hamburger. Even if you are not in the mood for lunch, it is okay. Rita Anne’s Kitchen sells breakfast too. If you are someone like me who has a constant sweet tooth, there is one place to go to cure your craving. Lauren Dowhower has the fluffliest cotton candy and luscious caramel apples I have ever had the pleasure of tasting in my entire life. There are many places where I have gone for caramel apples, but nothing can touch the ones made by Lauren Dowhower. Now there is a competition in itself.
There are times where I have gone to Punkin Chunkin and underdressed due to the cold temperatures, but I never had to stay cold for long. In the midst of all of the appetizing places to go for food are vendors that sell warm hats, gloves, scarves, and jackets, in case people like me undermine the weather that day.
When you first walk onto the field where the vendors are found, you will see an oversized tent that covers tables full of clothing and crafts, all labeled with the Punkin Chunkin logo. The clothing ranges from toddler sizes to adult sizes and can make a great gift for anyone, especially for those who cannot make the event. The first time I attended a Punkin Chunkin festival I completely forgot to bring cash, but with the portable ATM machines available on the field, I was able to whip out some cash with my debit card. Thank God for those. I would have been so hungry and cold.
If you are looking for something to do while waiting for the jolly voice over the loudspeaker to announce when the next pumpkin will be launched, head over to the mechanical bull and put your own skills to the test. Keep trying to see if you can beat your own time! If you have kids with you that always have to be entertained, there are various rides and activities that they can do to stay occupied. I get jealous when I see the kids bouncing around like jumping beans in the oversized red and blue moon bounce. It makes me wish I were a kid again. Even if you feel like doing something for fun and want to keep yourself entertained, go and get an airbrush tattoo or have your face painted which can easily be removed later on. I like to have pumpkins painted on my face in support of Pumpkin Chunkin.
No matter where you are coming from to enjoy this invigorating three day festival, there is an option that many other festivals do not have the pleasure of giving. Camping! That’s right. You can bring a tent, a trailer, an RV, or even curl up in a sleeping bag in the grass if you wanted to and enjoy a Friday and Saturday night camping out for the weekend. There is a fee for camping, but it is less expensive than getting a hotel room, and twice as much fun. If you chose to sleep in a hotel, it would cost over $120 for only a one night stay. Bringing an RV or a Camper would cost approximately $190 for the entire weekend. I personally stayed in a tent with my friends for the entire weekend which was only $136 and was worth every penny. We even had the experience of meeting new people and other punkin chunkin lovers while camping. Want to know one of the greatest things about the event? You can save money too. Delaware is tax free!
To date, the world record for the limit of punkin chunkin stands at 4,438 feet. That’s like launching a pumpkin across a total of 12 football fields. If you are looking for something to do this season and want to help raise money for a good cause, there is nothing more exciting than seeing, tasting, and experiencing the events held at the annual Punkin Chunkin event in Bridgeville, DE. Just visit their website to get easy-to-follow directions at www.punkinchunkin.com to find your way. Using a GPS for this location can be tricky, I know from experience. I had to stop and ask for directions twice the first time I went! Also, do not forget to order your tickets online, because it is much easier and faster to get into the festival. While you are eagerly waiting for the next Punkin Chunkin event, play the Lord of
the Gourd game which can also be found on their website. You can get a little taste of what the chunking looks like when the pumpkins are being shot out like cannonballs. My longest shot was 3,632 feet. It doesn’t beat the real chunking record, but hey, I tried. I am impatiently counting down the days until the next chunk; 28 days, 8 hours, and 22 minutes! Let’s get ready to hurl!
Michele Patarino is a fourth-year student majoring in secondary English education She can be reached at MP616535@wcupa.edu.
          

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