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Sending Pumpkins Where No Gourd Has Gone Before 46

fjordboy writes: "Getting tired of shooting potatoes long distances? Then check out world championship pumpkin chunkin' contests. Pumpkins are hurled out of pneumatic or mechanical devices (sorry, no explosives) and are sent flying for hundreds and thousands of yards. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon." Or Halloween ;)
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Sending Pumpkins Where no Gourd has Gone Before

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  • This reminds me of all the bizarre contests you get here in Blighty. For example, Dwarf throwing is a hearty contest, where contestants decide who can throw a dwarf the furthest.

    And also Cheese rolling, where contestants roll large Stiltons downhill at great speed.Unfortunately this was banned by the local council of the county where it takes place, as being too dangerous, but I hear it's making a comeback.

    And Golf, where, umm...Thats probably the most stupid;)

  • We used to have pumpkin skeet shooting, launched from our very own human powered pumpkin launcher. Two or three people had to jump on the glorified teeter-totter, which got launched the doomed pumpkins a pretty good distance (in the other direction of course).

  • Genetically manipulate a pumpkin such that it produces enough iron to be affected by an induction field. Such as the catapult in Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" we could send those Pumkpins flying with a Magnetic field.
  • The 1997 World Record on the site is 3718'. Thats 0.7 of a mile. 1.13KM. What the hell were these guys using? A tank?
  • Hurlers []

    I guess soon they'll run out of pumpkins, and revert to slinging spam around.

  • Why not genetically manipulate one into a carriage.

    No, wait, thats Cinderella..
  • Boss: "Now everyone lets bring all those pumpkins in the Server room there's plenty of work to get done..."

    ...a couple hours later & a few pumpkins less...

    Jo Schmoe: "...Boss, you moron...That wasn't me...but the Power Switch!"

    Another corporate dollar just got flushed!

  • When in Jr. High School we would use the casings of bic pens. We would tape over the hole in the body and cram a bit of potatoe in one end. Force it to the other end with a plunger (usually made of coat hanger) put another piece in and force it towards the first (thusly compressing the air and making it fire). We then reverted to paper. Hooray.
  • by onion2k ( 203094 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @03:56AM (#663409) Homepage
    We have determined that these devices, as described, are not firearms provided that they are used solely for launching potatoes for recreational purposes

    You've got to wonder what was going through the mind of the person that wrote that. There is no way anyone could write something along those line without a smile. Great.
  • We used the containers that used to contain ink for pens. By adding a spring you could stick in some matches, jam them in, and when you lit them, their heads would become smaller, causing them to be "launched".
  • these people are serious about their pumpkin launching. very serious []
  • I attended last years punkin chunk and cruised the "pit" with contestants and contraptions. One of the biggest problems with getting good distance is the fact that pumpkins don't stand up to extreme acceleration. The rules state the punkin must leave the "device" intact. A good proportion don't make it and spray "punkinfetti" out the barrel of those big pneumatic cannons.

    The most surprising aspect is the enormous amount of effort and money spent on creating these machines: LARGE air compressors, high pressure tanks, oil over air compressors, hydrolics for lifting and aiming barrels, all permanently mounted on customized trailers. And that's just the pheumatic "big guns." How about those centrifugal machines using automobile engines mounted on wobbly towers!

    As they say, "safety is optional"

    For a good laugh, check out "The Art & Science of Punkin' Chunkin'" video: Tongue-in-cheek and surprisingly well done
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Good idea.

    If they use the starving people instead we will solve the two problems:

    1. the need to hurl
    2. the starving people.
  • by Sanity-is-Boring ( 221231 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @04:16AM (#663414) Homepage
    This pumkin event was held last month (why? I don't know) Any way its in Morton IL and their champion (Aludium Q-36 Pumpkin Modulator: 3539 Feet) currently holds the world record. Even though the other site has a winner of over 3600 feet. Maybe Guiness was there or something anyway here's a link [] to it.
  • Looks like those damn hippies are at it again, trying to pervert the good old American spirit of throwing things with their drug induced ethos.

    Look no further than here, [], and search for a team named Loaded Boing, obviously a code word for a marijuana water pipe.

    I hope they drug tested the contestants before the competition.

    I do see they didn't do very well, proving once again that drugs are a handicap to all your endeavors.
  • Well, they COULD shoot AOL CD's all over the place. . .

    Nevermind, AOL already does that. . . .

    OK, then CueCats. . .nah. . .

    Windows CDs ??? Nice idea, but the EPA would likely cite you for spreading toxic waste. . .

    (diving for cover)

  • That article was pretty light on content. Anyone else know where some othere pictures might be?

    "What beats rock?" "Nuthin' beats rock!"
  • by arkham6 ( 24514 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @04:31AM (#663420)
    This one is old, I know, but I have to do it.

    Why do computer programmers get halloween and christmas mixed up?

    Because oct(31)==dec(25)
  • by ballista ( 215359 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @04:31AM (#663421)
    Since I have some experience in this area (as a competitor), The concept is sound. The problem you will run into though is that the competition is out in a large field with no available electricity. Unless you wish to build a power station right on the field or you invent really good super conductors, it won't work.

    What would be more interesting in term of genetic manipulations is to breed a super pumpkin. The problem with the big cannons that the pumpkins explode in the barrels when hit by high pressure. If you were to breed a pumpkin similar to a white pumpkin with a higher density it may be possible to push a pumkin to super sonic speeds.

    Also you could shape the pumpkin into more of a bullet so to cut down on wind resistance. Of course the holy grail would be to shape the pumpkin like a little airplane with wings that won't brake off and can be shot out of a cannon at high speed.

  • Sorry I live in DE. This event's been going on for quite a while. They've had to move it in recent years because the machine were starting to fire pumpkins near a church (and or Rt 1). The thing does get insane though with lots of people, lots of beer, duct tape, heavy machinery, and people who are way too serious about hurling pumpkins into tomarrow.

    As for those concerned about people starving, realize these are left over pumpkins, that probably couldn't be shipped anywhere in time to be of use.

    My friends and I really want to enter this. One of these years we will. Not to win mind you. Just to have some fun.

  • It's also the main reason that the Earth has been shunned by the rest of the universe.
  • It's sure as hell strange to see what I've known as a "local tradition" to become a national event. (I live 15 minutes from the Punkin' Chunkin' site). I've actually had friends compete (and place) in this. Most of the cannons are able to fire upwards of one mile now, and my friend's catapult (built with bigass springs and surgical tubing) fires it 400+ feet. It's some weird stuff, eh?
    A requirement of creativity is that it contributes
    to change. Creativity keeps the creator alive.
  • I looked all over the website, and no where *at all* does it say where the contest takes place. They even give you directions to the place *without telling you where the hell it is*.

    Bad, bad webmaster. Shoot 'em with a pumpkin!
  • But what the hell, it's Hallowe'en and I'm sure if you all appreciate hurling pumpkins, you can appreciate the Fire in the Bottle trick and Mission Imposible Midge:
  • Speaking of the church, I was there three years ago when their recent summer tweaking on the big cannons put their expected distance at the END of the "long field," across the road, and pretty much INTO a church on the other side.

    So did they call off the competition?

    Nope. They evacuated the church and said they would pay for anything they broke. It was also around then that they unfurled a giant tarp on the roof of the church that looked like a bullseye ;)

    Anyway, don't go. It's uh, too crowded or something. It's not fun. And I won't be camping there on Saturday night this weekend. Nope. Not me.

  • by cetan ( 61150 )
    yeah, they could use trolls...
  • Everyone knows the REAL pumpkins-being-shot-out-of-an-apparatus event is in Morton, IL!
  • The 1997 World Record on the site is 3718'. Thats 0.7 of a mile. 1.13KM. What the hell were these guys using? A tank?

    I saw this and is scared the bejesus out of me. What if there is some dude, 3000' away preparing to launch a pumpkin at me?

    Seriously, I bet watching a pumpkin fly for half a mile is a beautiful site.

  • In any case who wants to eat pumpkins? Potatoes or tomatoes are definitely tastier and the poor too can appreciate getting them rather than those sick pumpkins. Good they chose pumpkins.
  • Back in Columbus Day 1998, my wife and I were in western New York visiting friends of ours (they own a golf course - how cool is that), and we went to see one of these at a festival in scenic Busti, New York. Man, they were some cool machines...

    The competition was broken into two categories - mechanically-powered devices (generally slingshots and catapults), and air or pressure-powered devices (the massive air cannons). The better slingshots could chuck the pumpkin around a hundred yards - the cannons could fire a half mile and up. The highlight was when one of the catapults misfired and tossed the pumpkin straight up about a hundred feet and slightly backwards, so it landed in the crowd (people just stepped a few feet away from the landing area and let it go splat).

    It was actually a lot of fun - If I'm out there again during punkin' chunkin' season I'll go see it.

    Also, one of the people I work with here is on a team that built an air cannon for the big festival that's in this article. I can't remember the name of it offhand but I'm trying to find the message with the group's website link - I'll post the link if I find it.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • I used to live near the Pumpkin Chunkin, now in school. I had planned to take a bunch of people back home for it. Someone told me that this year it was cancelled because they couldnt do it at the airport anymore....So any information about when/where or if it is still going on this year would be a big help! thanks!
  • Having been to one last year, I can say testosterone poisoning is rampant.

    The winners in the unlimited class, are always the pneumatic guns, of which the afforementioned "Alludium Pu-236 Pumpkin Modulator" is the king of testosterone. Not as much an oversized spitball gun (which, when you get down to it, is all the pneumatic pumpkin location adjusters are) but military level weaponry.

    Eventually one of these will be the end of either the whole pumpkin chunkin, or the end of the pneumatic class. I asked one of the crewmen "When does it go beyond hobby" he said "1600psi" Not surprising many of these have industrial grade compressors and generators hooked up to them. Eventually one of these -big- guns will explode, and take out the entire pit crew. Someone will try to get that -one- extra PSI of power, and the tank will blow. Not to mention the rivalries and secrecy that drapes like an ugly shroud around the place. But then, these aren't exactly cheap toys.

    I'd say go see it. Its quite an enjoyable day watching mechanical engineering going just a little overboard... which isn't a bad thing. until testosterone poisoning darwinates someone on the field.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I love stories like this. I think it's because pumpkins make such an impressive SPLATT! when they hit a hard surface.

    We had graphic evidence of this during a conference I was attending in 1986 in Vancouver, BC. I'd been a member of the organization in question for two years prior, though Vancouver was the first annual conference I was able to make.

    Anyway, the whole thing took place at what used to be the Sheraton Landmark hotel. BC residents, and those who have visited the area, will know it as the tall tower-style building with the rotating restaurant on top. About 42 floors in all (Doug Adams, are you reading this?)

    The post-presentation conference parties were in full swing on or near Halloween night, and the hotel had made the critical error of putting out many different sizes and shapes of pumpkins all over the lobby and atrium. Within two hours of the night's festivities beginning, there was not a readily-accessible pumpkin to be found ANYwhere in the area.

    One of our org's members (who shall remain nameless) was throwing a party in his suite on the 40th floor, just below the restaurant. This suite had its own balcony. Soon after the beer was passed around, pumpkins started showing up: Two large, and one small. I'm sure you can see what's coming.

    The small one was the first to go. It was a hand-sized little beastie that barely made any noise at all as it smashed into the parking lot far below.

    The second one was much more impressive. In fact, its rapid descent (still with candle in place) tripped a large Murphy switch. About three seconds after it plunged into the fog, we were all rewarded with this fairly loud CRASH!TinkleTinkle!

    As it turns out, this particular gourd had center-punched a passing Vancouver PD patrol car, precisely in the middle of their light bar. The cops soon showed up, hotel security in tow, but no one would admit to anything (duh!) Since they didn't want to arrest the whole room, they simply left with a warning not to fling stuff off the balcony.

    Soon after they left, the final pumpkin was tossed. It landed with a very loud and satisfying "SPLUTT!" My roomies and I went out the next morning to check on it, and the other casualties, and found bits of pumpkin scattered over at least a two-hundred foot radius from the point of impact. We also found some bits of remaining plastic from the unfortunate cop-car.

    The moral of the story: Crows like pumpkins. No matter what shape they're in! ;-)

  • In Huntsville, Alabama, the members of UAH SEDS (University of Alabama in Huntsville Students for the Exporation and Development of Space) for sometime held a pumpkin launch around Holloween night (technically, UAH SEDS had nothing to do with the event for liability reasons). Several people attached model rocket engines to hollowed out pumpkins and launched them. The results? Usually an unpredicable object that never got far from the ground. But once, a large pumpkin was hurled maybe 150 feet into the air on a parabolic trajectory. The crowd began to run for cover once the pumpkin started on its way down. It splatered into many peices and became completely flat. Much fun :-)
  • Maybe the guy who got his computer seized by the FBI [] could use a spud gun to demand it be given back. By definition of the FBI itself, he couldn't be accused of assault with a firearm, right?

  • Dave Barry said in a column once that the potato cannon was useful in illustrating gender differences.
    When he would tell any woman about the device that a friend of his had made, they would all say "What the hell is he thinking? Why would anyone make something like that?" When he would tell men, they would all say "cool!" I've tried Dave's experiment, and my results have been consistent with his.
  • My physics: motion and forces class is doing a pumpkin launch this month. Now if I only had a budget, I could get something like those launchers, launch those gourds off campus...
  • BATF agents are not issued a sense of humor.
  • 404 baby, 404.

    "Don't trolls get tired?"
  • Hmmm. You're calling cricket bizarre, and you're (presumably) from the land of the game where a bunch of 500 pound guys pile on top of each other, for ten seconds, and then everything stops for five minutes where the captain, the coaches, the umpires, the crowd, the commentators, a bunch of drunks in a sports bar, and the computers at the Pentagon analyse the play.

    Like I said - hmmm.

  • I first saw this story about 2-3 years ago in "Compressed Air" magazine which was distributed freely by Ingersoll-Rand [] It was a very cool magazine, and it always had cool articles. The one I am speaking of had a large writeup about a competition in Deleware where these MASSIVE air compressors (hmmmm..and several were made by ingersoll-rand...conspiracy? or is the magazine biased?) that powered these pumpkin chucking devices. I thought this was really cool, but because of my young age and lack of ability, I was forced to build a potato gun [] instead, which doesn't have quite the same power. So the other day I looked up this pumpkin thing and I was completely blown away by all the stuff they did now..there were hundreds of pages about it. I was very impressed.

  • Sounds like you're accusing me of being American. I'm afraid i'm English.

    The closest we get to that is rugby - 500 pound guys singing pile on top of each other for ten seconds, get in a circle touching each other's buttocks, then urinate in the showers.
  • He just doesn't understand British humour ;)

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell