Punkin Chunkin’ 2012

Posted by on October 2, 2012
Giant Trebuchet for Punkin Chunkin'

Using technology invented in medieval times as siege weaponry, this giant trebuchet relies on the potential energy of a massive weight converting to kinetic energy to throw the pumpkin.

Today’s Geek Destination of Choice:

World Championship Punkin’ Chunkin!

 

What it is:

It’s a three-day competition and festival held every fall in Bridgeville, Delaware, where several categories of machinery compete to see which machine can throw a pumpkin the farthest.

This year’s event takes place November 2 – 4, 2012.

 

Why This Sets my Geek Heart Aflutter:

Holy crap.

From a technical perspective, this event excites me because it’s like if Angry Birds were played in real life by insane engineers with redneck pit crew minions tending their enormous and improbable machinery.

It’s like if Girl Genius and Nascar had a bastard child who developed an unhealthy vendetta against squash.

If I had kids, I would want them to watch this so they would know how awesome engineering can be. They will remember this event as they are applying Newton’s motion equations in their physics classes. Heck, why not teach them as soon as they can handle algebra? Heck, why not build our own so they can see it in action? Well, these contraptions cost half as much as my house, that’s why. No one said that engineering was easy, or cheap, and certainly not quiet.

If engineering were a spectator sport, it couldn’t really get any better than this. Picture over a hundred giant dangerous contraptions, some belching smoke, some based on medieval technology that has been improved with hundreds of years of tinkering and the introduction of modern materials, some with hundreds of pounds of weights swinging through the air, all of them with their guts exposed to see the myriad of insane, mostly violent inner workings supported by steel beams that sometimes get thrown into the air when something breaks down. All of this brute technology– the engines, the hard-hats, the last-minute tweaking, and Newton’s laws of motion applied vigorously and visibly — is to toss pumpkins into the air without smashing them with the machinery on the way out.

Basically, it seems like a ridiculous amount of smarts go into what appears on the surface as a brainless event. Combined with the festive feel of a fall festival and 50,000 spectators tailgating for something other than a football game, this definitely makes the list of geektastic things I would like to be part of at least once before I die.

 

Long-time reigning champion team, The Big 10 Inch

The Big 10 Inch, an entry into the Air Cannon category, was the reigning champion team several years in a row.

Have you been there?

No. I saw it on TV, which I will not pretend is the same thing. It was hosted by the MythBusters guys, Jamie and Adam. The TV hosts change every year, so someone else would probably be hosting if I ever went in person. I can’t vouch for what the in-person experience would be like, but I can tell you that it would be worth my time to find out for myself. If you go and it’s cold and lame, don’t blame me, blame Jamie and Adam. If you’ve been and it was awesome, leave a comment and tell the rest of us all about it.

 

How much will it cost me?

Tickets to the chunkin’ are $10 per person per day, and the entire event spans three days of engineering madness.

There are plenty of food vendors on the premises, and as the event spans all day, you might need to budget multiple meals.

Of course, an event costs a lot more than just the ticket price. If you don’t live near Bridgeville, Delaware, your travel and hotel costs will increase the overall cost of attending.

 

Websites and Additional information:

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