Those pumpkins will fly once againPunkin Chunkin named one of top 100 USA events
It's back, in all its orange glory. For three days pumpkins will take flight over Sussex County skies.
The 28th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin is Friday, Nov. 1, Saturday, Nov. 2, and Sunday, Nov. 3, at the Wheatley Farm off Route 404 near Bridgeville.
Backyard engineers – and even a few professional engineers – will have one goal: to throw an 8- to 10-pound pumpkin as far as they can. Chunkers compete in seven categories including trebuchets, catapults, human-powered and the mighty air cannons, which are capable of shooting a pumpkin more than 4,000 feet.
Thanks to its popularity as a show on cable channel Science, the event has attracted international attention. This year's event will be broadcast on the Science channel Thanksgiving evening, Thursday, Nov. 28. Last year's show will air on Science channel at 9 p.m. Nov. 2-4.
With humble beginnings in Lewes in 1986, no one could have envisioned that as many as 100,000 people and more than 100 teams would take part in the event. The winning throw the first year was 126 feet. It's been named one of the top 100 events in the country by the American Bus Association.
The event has moved from place to place as chunkers figured out ways to throw pumpkins greater distances. Team registration was filled nearly seven months ago.
Punkin Chunkin is all about the characters who come out once a year to compete. One of those will not be at the event. Joe “Wolfman” Thomas Jr., known for his silver hard hat, passed away this year after crashing his motorcycle.
Weather conditions have not been kind to the event over the past few years. The coveted adult air cannon world record has not really been threatened over the past four years since local team Young Glory III shattered it with a shot of 4,483 feet. The youth record dates back a decade. When Young Glory III team members were younger, they broke the youth air cannon record with a shot of 3,945 feet back in 2003.
Last year, due to heavy rain from Hurricane Sandy a few days before, competition was condensed into two days because of muddy conditions.
The event kicks off Nov. 1 when the gates open to the public at 7:30 a.m. Competition begins at 8 a.m. each day. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 10 a.m. on Nov. 2. Also on Nov. 2, cooking contest judging begins followed by fireworks around 7 p.m.
On Nov. 3, the Punkin Chunkin pageants get underway at 10:30 a.m. followed by the chili cook-off judging at 12:30 p.m. The Mr. and Mrs. Punkin Chunkin Pageant starts at 12:45 p.m.
The event concludes with the awards ceremony on the main stage at 5:15 p.m.
Proceeds from the event go to several nonprofit groups and organizations including Autism Foundation, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Company, WBOC's Bless Our Children, Childhelp, Delaware Guidance Services for Children and Youth, Home of the Brave, Lewes Meals on Wheels and St. Baldrick's Foundation.
INFO YOU NEED
Tickets: $10 per person; cars are free. Other charges apply to tailgaters and campers.
Children under 10 are free. Gates open at 7:30 a.m. To avoid long waits, go early and order tickets on-line. Pets are not allowed. Go to punkinchunkin.com for more information.