Fall brings with it changing leaves, cooler weather, pumpkin-spiced everything, boots, corn mazes, and inevitably, pumpkin chunkin’! Launching pumpkins has become a tradition in many parts of the country when the autumn season arrives.
What Is Pumpkin Chunkin’?
Grab your catapults, cannons, and trebuchets and get ready to send your pumpkins flying! That’s literally how most are done. Usually taking place at festivals, people will gather to watch a contest of who can launch a pumpkin the farthest.
A little poking around on the internet found that the first pumpkin was launched in 1986 in Lewes, Delaware. That slingshot-like machine sent the pumpkin 178 feet, creating a fall tradition for years to come.
If you’re looking for a way to watch gourds fly, we rounded up pumpkin chunkin’ festivals across the country.
Pumpkin Chunkin’ Festivals
In early November, Pumpkin Destruction Day at Tate Farms in Alabama hosts its annual festival, which goes beyond your average competition. There is the Monster Truck “Smashing Show” with cars and pumpkins, the Special Pumpkin Explosion Show, a Hot Air Balloon Pumpkin Drop, and the Tate Farms Pumpkin Cannon shoots at a target.
Save those jack-o-lanterns for Punkin’ Chunkin’ in the Park on Sunday, November 5 in Palm Beach. There are small, medium, large, and bring-your-own-launcher categories. Send your pumpkins flying through the park while also enjoying pumpkin crafts, science demos, and discounted admission to the South Florida Science Center.
The Harvest Homecoming Festival was voted Best Indiana Fall Festival. It launches October 6–9. It hosts a week’s worth of activities with a parade, pageant, food and drinks, and the annual Pumpkin Chunkin’ competition.
One of the most popular events of the season at Wellington Farm USA in Michigan is Pumpkin Chunkin’. On October 15 and 16, you can watch as pumpkins fly through the air shot from a catapult. Pumpkins are launched twice every hour on the half-hour. You could even be chosen to help!
The countdown is on to the Pumpkin Chunkin Palooza in Camdenton, Missouri. This family-friendly fall festival draws crowds to the Lake of the Ozarks during a gorgeous time of the year. On September 24, besides flying pumpkins, there’s also face painting, fall foods, pumpkin decorating, a magic show, and more.
6. New York
Rain or shine, pumpkins will fly in Clayton, New York, for Punkin Chunkin’ on October 15. There are children and adult pumpkin launches, barbecue tastings and contests, and a farmers market.
7. North Carolina
See pumpkins fly at Punkin Chunkin weekend on October 15 and 16 in Brasstown, North Carolina. Catapults, air cannons, trebuchets, and other powerful machines will toss the gourds several thousand feet in a battle between champion Pumpkin Chunkers. This harvest festival will have pie-eating contests, hay rides, a kids zone, a chili cook-off competition, and more fall fun!
Pro Tip: Learn about the history of trebuchets and the physics behind them at The Schiele Museum in Gastonia, North Carolina. On Saturday, November 17, you’ll learn all about it and even build your own mini version.
Every year, the Howard County Fire Company holds a 1-day festival at Bald Eagle State Park. The main attraction is launching pumpkins hundreds of feet through the air and watching them splash down in a nearby lake. Punkin Chunkin is on October 22 with vendors, smaller trebuchets for the public to shoot, games, a pumpkin pie-eating contest, and a farmers market.
Allegheny County Parks and SHARP Robotics will launch pumpkins across the amphitheater field with a full-size trebuchet on October 22 for its Punkin Chunkin festival. There will be food and drinks and free activities like arts and crafts, face painting, balloon art, and sessions of “Intro to Medieval Sword Fighting.”
The 13th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival is on September 25th. They expect a lot of competitors to hurl pumpkins this year. This festival was awarded USA Today’s best fall festival in the country. It celebrates the sport for distance, using a do-it-yourself-constructed trebuchet. It’s been described as a cross between a soap box derby and a shot put contest! People of all ages can participate in the friendly competition. The current record is 780 feet.
Bring your leftover jack-o-lanterns to the Great Country Farms Pumpkin Chunkin’ on November 5 and 6 in Bluemont Virginia. The Silo Drop and the Zip Wire Sploosh let you do the smashing yourself. There’s also the Pumpkin Drop Zone where you can add it to the upside-down “fireworks display” — pumpkins dropped from a 40-foot lift. The pigs and cows eat them when it’s all over, and the rest is composted. There are also cider-pressing demos, marshmallow roasting, and a cow train.
The last weekend in September is the annual Harvest Festival and Pumpkin Pitch at Skagit River Park. There’s a kids zone, arts and crafts vendors, Pumpkin Slingers Contest, Touch-A-Tractor, pumpkin painting, food vendors, and more. All the pumpkin pitch machines are made by the teams that toss the gourds up to 1,000 feet.
The Great Pumpkin Fest on October 15 not only features the Best of the Midwest BBQ Cook-Off, but a chance to launch your own pumpkin. The Pumpkin Chuckin Fest lets you chuck your own pumpkin. There’s also a pumpkin explosion and a giant candy drop.
Looking for other ways to enjoy the fall season? Check out: