Sunday, November 13, 2011


Punkin Chunkin

The World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association (WCPCA) is a trademark nonprofit that raises money for scholarships, as well as organizations that benefit youth and the local community. We host a signature pumpkin-launching event each year, fueling innovative engineering and science-based ideas that draw spectators from all over. We believe that Punkin Chunkin cultivates the odd, challenging, and competitive quest for distance that inspires creativity, ingenuity, teamwork, and passion. It is this very dedication that drives teams to compete using science and engineering skills and brings spectators to the gate which allows us to continue our never ending thirst to support our scholarship and charitable programs.


Punkin Chunkin Founders Honored at Ceremony

    Members of the Punkin’ Chunkin’ Association, sponsors of the annual World Championship Punkin’ Chunkin’ event honored four men this year considered the founding fathers of what has become a nationally recognized event.
   Wayne Sennett, a punkin’ chunker and member of the association, presented plaques to John Ellsworth and Trey Melson in Ellsworth’s Preservation Forge blacksmiths shop. Sennett presented a plaque to Bill Thompson during the awards banquet held last week. Arrangements are being made to get Donald “Doc” Pepper’s plaque to him.

Donald (Doc) Pepper
“It all started back in 1986,” said Ellsworth. “We were playing around one day and somebody started talking about throwing pumpkins. There had been an article in a newspaper or on television about some people throwing pumpkins at Salisbury State. A physics class or something. One of us said that they could throw further than someone else and I threw my hat on the ground.”
“No one had any gloves” said Melson.
“Anyway,” said Ellsworth, “Trey and Bill both stomped on my hat and that kind of threw the gauntlet down. I can’t remember who won that first year.”
“Yes you can,” said Melson.
“Oh yeah. You whupped up on everybody.”
   (The longest shot that year - in a small field in a woods owned by Thompson near Georgetown - was 126’. Wolfman Joe Thomas’ winning shot this year went more than 3,000 feet into the wind.)
   Ellsworth remembers that Melson’s bow with a catapult arm broke all day long. “It broke on every throw and every time it broke, the pumpkin went further.”
Melson said he was “tickled to death” and surprised at receiving the plaque. “I’m glad that people are recognizing who was involved.” Ellsworth said that he was “highly honored.”
   This years event drew more than 20,000 people and grossed more than $100,000 in ticket sales and associated revenues. A total of 72 teams competed. Sennett said that more than $70,000 of that will be distributed in scholarships to a variety of community organizations.
   “We’re particularly proud that this year’s event was organized by an all volunteer committee,” said Sennett. “We’re presenting these plaques on behalf of every man, woman or child who ever threw, tossed, catapulted or smashed a pumpkin, with our wholehearted thanks, gratitude and great respect.”

File:Big 10 Inch - World Record Moab Shot.JPG

   Pumpkin Chunking (also called Punkin' Chunkin', Pumpkin Chunkin', and Pumpkin Chucking) is the sport of hurling a pumpkin by mechanical means for distance. The devices used include slingshots, catapults, centrifugals, trebuchets, and pneumatic air cannons.
   A pneumatic air cannon named 'Big 10 Inch' holds the current world record by firing a pumpkin 5,545.43 feet (1,690.247 meters).   The world record shot took place September 9, 2010 in Moab, Utah. The shot received certification from Guinness World Records in early January, 2011.  Pumpkin chunking competitions, formal and informal, exist throughout the United States in the autumn, and often occur when pumpkins are harvested.  World Championship Punkin Chunkin, held in Delaware, is the oldest and largest annual competition. The event began in 1986 and featured over 100 teams in 2010. A European Championship is held in Bikschote, Belgium, and has been held there each year since 2004.
   The range achieved by devices greatly depends on their mass, shape, and size; the yield limits, stiffness, pitch, and elevation of the hurler; and the weather. The pumpkin is another important variable since sabots are often prohibited in competitions. The most common pumpkin varieties used are Caspers, Luminas, and La Estrellas - these varieties typically have thicker rinds and can better withstand the forces of launch. A usual rule is that the pumpkin must remain whole after leaving the device for the chunk to count. Pumpkins that burst after leaving the barrel are referred to as "pie" (short for "pumpkin pie in the sky").


World Championship Punkin Chunkin
   World Championship Punkin Chunkin (WCPC) is the name of an annual pumpkin chunkin contest held the first full weekend after Halloween in Sussex County, Delaware. It is governed by the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association (WCPCA).
   Teams compete in the following divisions: Air Cannon, Female Air Cannon, Centrifugal, Catapult, Torsion, Trebuchet, Human Powered, Youth Air Cannon, Youth Catapult, Youth Trebuchet, Youth Human Powered, Youth 10 & Under, and Theatrical. Each division competes strictly for distance except for the Theatrical division which relies on a fan vote. The teams get three shots, one taken on each of three consecutive days. Only the teams farthest shot is scored for official results. Spotters riding on ATVs find the impact point, and then a professional surveyor calculates the distance based on GPS coordinates of the impact and the machine. The impact point is marked with color coded spray paint to avoid confusion with future shots.
   For the entertainment of spectators, the event also features amusement rides, food vendors, fireworks, live concerts, a pumpkin cooking contest, a chili cook-off, the Miss Punkin Chunkin pageant, et al.

The championship trophy

   Safety has remained the number one priority of the WCPCA. The sole fatality was a duck hit by a pumpkin that had been shot out of an air cannon.
   The event originated in 1986. One of the event's early locations was in Lewes just off of DE Rte 1 - at the end of the field was a church that was thought to be out of reach. Due to increasing space requirements (distance of shots, number of teams, and number of spectators) the field was moved elsewhere in Sussex County.
    In 2006, the first ever UK team, "The Scrapheap All-Stars" took part in the Centrifugal class representing UK TV show, Scrapheap Challenge where they finished 2nd.  This was the first time the "World Championships" featured international competition.
   In 2007, WCPC moved to its current location in Bridgeville, near the intersection of Seashore Highway (DE Rte 404) and Chaplains Chapel Road. About 75 teams competed, the event drew more than 20,000 people, and grossed more than $100,000 in ticket sales and associated revenues. More than 70% of that money will be donated to a variety of community organizations.

 Science Channel Coverage

   The Science Channel currently owns the television broadcast rights to the WCPC contest. After the 2010 event the WCPCA and the Science Channel agreed to a new, 3-year contract that runs through the 2013 WCPC. In 2009 and 2010 the "Punkin Chunkin" special aired on tape delay on Thanksgiving Day. Each year of coverage thus far has featured an hour long special titled "Road to the Chunk" that preceded coverage of the WCPC event. The previous year's contest is shown around Halloween and sporadically throughout the year. Road to Punkin Chunkin 2011 will feature at least three 30-minute episodes (airing November 3, 10, and 17).

Some of the big chunkin guns

In 2002, the Discovery Channel aired the initial Punkin Chunkin special and it was hosted by Bryan Callen.

In 2008, after a six year hiatus, Punkin Chunkin returned to cable television on the Science channel. Brad Sherwood hosted the one-hour program.

In 2009, Science channel expanded the coverage to two episodes (the first hour, a lead-up to the event; the second hour being coverage from the competition). This was hosted by Catch It Keep It hosts Zach Selwyn and Mike Senese.

In 2010, MythBusters hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman covered the event. The coverage was simulcast on the Discovery Channel. The special earned the Science Channel its highest rating in the network's history (topping the previous year's coverage).

In 2011, MythBusters hosts Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, and Tory Belleci will cover the events.

World Championship Punkin Chunkin Champions

YearTeam NameDistance (feet)
2010Hormone Blaster3,755.65
2009Big 10 Inch4,162.65
2008Young Glory III4,483.51
2007Big 10 Inch4,211.27
20062nd Amendment3,870.50
20052nd Amendment4,331
2004Old Glory4,224
20032nd Amendment4,434
20022nd Amendment3,881
2001Old Glory3,911
2000Old Glory4,086
1999Big 10 Inch3,695
1997Universal Soldier3,718
1996Q 362,710
1995Mello Yellow2,655
1994Universal Soldier2,508
1993Under Pressure1,204
1992De Terminator852
1991Ultimate Warrior776
1990Ultimate Warrior775
1989John Ellsworth612
1988Melson - Thompson600
1987Melson - Thompson300
1986Melson - Thompson178



The crowd at the punkin chunkin


World Championship Punkin Chunkin Records

As of November 2011, the world records to have been established at the Punkin Chunkin event were:

Machine ClassTeam NameDistance (feet)Year
Adult AirYoung Glory III4,483.512008
Adult Female AirLet's Bounce3,998.832008
Adult CentrifugalBad To The Bone2,737.692006
Adult CatapultFibonacci Unlimited II2,862.282005
Adult TrebuchetYankee Siege2,034.212009
Adult Human PoweredPumpkin Slayer1,984.372009
Adult TorsionChucky II3,091.582008
Adult Centrifugal Human PoweredM2S2 Spinumpkin229.592005
Youth AirYoung Glory III3,945.282003
Youth CatapultLittle Feats1,232.942005
Youth TrebuchetSanford Slinger852.342009
Youth Human PoweredFailed Negotiations853.462006
Youth 10 and UnderLittle Blaster1,939.812002

   The "Adult Centrifugal Human Powered" category is no longer recognized as an individual category at WCPC. At the 2010 contest, an adult centrifugal human powered machine named 'Smokin Lamas' shot a pumpkin 830.21 feet - the machine was entered in the Human Powered division. The WCPCA has yet to recognize the shot as an event record.


  1. How many spectator's attended in 2011?

  2. From the infor I could gather there were over 50,000 people who watched or showed up for the festivities on Thanksgiving day. Thanks for the great question.