Sunday, November 8, 2009

Checked that box...

If anyone's thinking about heading up to Delaware next November for the Silver Anniversary of the Punkin Chunkin, I highly recommend taking a day and making the trip. Back in September I said I was going to do it and, true to my word, a friend and I hammered up to the First State to see some punkins' meet their maker on Saturday.

Just be ready to sit in line for a while.

Still, the 90+ minutes sitting in the car waiting to get in the gate were well worth it. The pressure builds exponentially the closer you get to the firing line. You're still sitting in line the first time you hear the "WHOOOSH!" when one of the big air cannon sends its punkin' into the wild blue yonder.

Kinda like this, when Young Glory took the final air cannon shot on Saturday which went 3,718.51 feet (in case you're interested).

Or this shot by Chunk-n-ology which traveled 3,442.33 feet.

You know how people have their favorite wrestlers from WWE? Well, if I had to choose a favorite air cannon, it'd be this one -

Here's a close-up in case you can't read the sign in the other picture...

[Note: I checked the results and guess what? The Big 10 Inch won the Chunk with a shot of 4,162.65 feet. It's always nice rooting for a winner.]

Anyway, I wish I had more pictures of the cannons firing, but remember what I said about the line to get in? We missed most of the firing by that division. I'm particularly annoyed because I was never able to get a picture of the punkin' coming out of the barrel. Trust me, it's not impossible (especially at six frames a second), and I say this as someone who once got a picture of the shell coming out of the barrel of a real cannon.

Moving on, thankfully the cannon weren't the only game in town. There were also the siege machines of old. This, my friends, is a trebuchet called the Yankee Siege, which holds the current trebuchet (I really love that word) punkin' chunkin' world record of 2,034.21 feet. It's also available for party rentals.

Here it is in action setting the above record of 2,034.21 feet. In case you don't know how a trebuchet works, here it is in a pie shell: The big weight on the right of the fulcrum is released.

As it falls it pulls the arm on the left up accelerating the attached sling, which contains the punkin' (or cow for those of you who are Monty Python fans).

At the top of the swing, the punkin' (or cow) is ready to be released back into the least for as long as it takes it to fly 2,000+ feet.

If you look real carefully at the top right corner of the picture below, you'll see the punkin' in flight.

And that is how a trebuchet works. But, what was that? You ask why would grown men build these machines and launch perfectly good gourds into the atmosphere? Why did Hillary climb Everest? Why did Orville and Wilbur head to the OBX? Because this is America and they could (all except for that mountain thing, that guy was British).

You need another, better reason, you say? OK, how about this -

A trophy so big it comes with it's own trailer and forklift skid. According to the Science Channel, the trophy weighs around 300 pounds and requires a major home renovation, since you have to reinforce your mantel so you can stick it up there.

Of course, like any festival/fair/concert, there are drawbacks...but I respect the woman's ingenuity of drinking in the line for the porta-shitter.

All in all, the Punkin' Chunkin' is nothing but good family fun, especially if you have an elevated seat on Dad's shoulders and can see over the crowd.

Oh, and you didn't think I'd let you get away without a sunset shot, did ya?

The gunline as the sun settles in the Western sky. Sleep well, chunkers...dawn comes early.


lacochran said...

Trebuchet is a very cool word. Thanks for educating me at the party Saturday night. (Usually that sentence has a whole different meaning.)

Liebchen said...

That has to be one of the best trophies I've ever seen.

Sounds like a great time, all around.

FoggyDew said...

la - my mouth sometimes has a tendency to keep running long after people get tired of hearing it. If that ever happens, feel free to tell me you've had enough. I think I get it from my dad.

Liebchen - It is a pretty good trophy. A good time was had by all, especially the folks who got to take home the trophy. Also, is it just me or does that picture of the little girl look a little like the pictures you've posted of little Liebchen?

Alice said...

i... uh... well. i'm not TOTALLY convinced that pumpkin chucking is for me, but i can see the appeal :-)

J said...

Dude, someone had the Science Channel(?) on the other day when I was walking through the room, and I saw Punkins being Chunked. Turns out there is a documentary on this, and it airs on Thanksgiving. I'll see if I can't tape it..

FoggyDew said...

Alice - But it's fun for a boy and a girl. I'd liken it to a county or state fair, there was even a Ferris Wheel.

J - What is this "tape" you speak of?

Anonymous said...

Ha, how funny that you can actually rent one for parties! I wonder what sort of food they offer at the Chunkin, though I guess they have all that perfectly good leftover pumpkin...

FoggyDew said...

convinceme - The food offerings at the Chunk were from all of the major fair food groups: fried, battered, spun (cotton candy) and, of course, alcohol. Lots of alcohol. You'd be surprised about the leftover punkins', the ones they use are super-hard (twss) white pumpkins that are generally not good for eating. Oh the irony.

Tyler said...

I went last year and it was a blast! I don't think that I have ever seen as diverse a crowd anywhere before. I think that it's a once in a lifetime event though. Not sure I need to go back.

Great photos! I was a big fan of Yankee Siege. I love the trebuchets!

Sebastian said...

Wow... such depth for a pumpkin-related event...!

They can only use air, eh? No explosives?

Still, surprised nothing 'odd' has ever gone on... like someone putting a baby in a cannon or something. Or a small animal.

(Morbid, but you get the idea.)

I now feel fully clued-up on the world of chunking pumpkins!

FoggyDew said...

Tyler - Welcome! It was a pretty interesting crowd indeed. Not sure if I need to go back, but I may *want* to go back, if for no other reason than to catch a punkin' coming out of one of the cannon.

Seb - Yes, sadly, only air. There goes my idea for an electo-magnetic rail gun shooting fin-stabilized disgarding sabot punkins.