The Punkin Chunkin has once again been cancelled, the second year in a row, and I surmise it is doomed forever now.
For any new readers here, the back story is that Mr. EOS and I attended the event in 2010, had such a blast that we opted to return in 2011, but wanted a way to have access to contestants to take photos for the blog. We ponied up a donation to the organization, enough to get named an Official Sponsor, which got us a golf cart and inside the fence access. It was heaven.
We skipped a couple of years but decided to attend in 2014, only to hear it was cancelled due to a lawsuit brought about by one of the spotters who was injured on his ATV in 2011. We were there for that accident and the rest of the day was nearly cancelled. Ambulances came and there was at least a two-three hour delay. No brainer, there was a lawsuit brought by the spotter, even though the PC organization said he had spotted for eyars, knew the hazards, signed a waiver. But lawyers always see the exception to a waiver. The lawsuit was protracted and costly, there was a settlement that can not be disclosed, but long story short, it left the Punkin Chunkin organizers without anyone willing to insure the event, so, bye bye event.
Enter some really stupid idea of hosting the 2015 event up in Dover, at the Dover Speedway. Like what? The ENTIRE attraction to the Punkin Chunk is that it’s in a huge farmer’s field in the middle of lower Delaware, not at a venue where people are in seats.
The latter is what makes the PC so much fun. It’s fan participation, up close and personal. Plus, the obvious, how could the huge air cannons vie for the longest pumpkin hurling inside the confines of a speedway- one of THE main events people wait for. Dumb.
The local newspaper conceded that point too:
Before the event was canceled this year, there were concerns about how the grounds at the speedway could accommodate some aspects of the event. Chunkers removed the distance competition from the weekend’s activities, acknowledging there wasn’t room for the air cannons to propel pumpkins nearly a mile downrange, as there had been in Sussex.
The other interesting aspect of the reason Delaware may not see the PC anymore is legislation. Maybe before Biden becomes president, HE can see to it that the event stays in Delaware.
Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, a Republican from Georgetown, Del., said Thursday he doubted Punkin Chunkin would ever take root again in Delaware. Pettyjohn sponsored a bill this year to cap pain-and-suffering damages at $1 million for personal injury lawsuits filed against non-profit companies sponsoring annual special events. The bill has not been discharged from the Senate Executive Committee, and a member of the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association testified against it in a hearing.
“It looks like we’re going to lose the event here in Delaware, and we’re never going to get it back,” said Pettyjohn. “Maybe if this was a New Castle County event, we’d get some motion out of it. But it’s been a Sussex County event, and it seems the magnitude of the event is lost on the other legislators.”
Still, Pettyjohn said, he will renew his push to get his legislation to the Senate floor when the Legislature reconvenes in a few months.
I’m glad we got to attend twice. It was truly amazing and so many great people – from kids who created their own machines to university professors to groups of men and women creating a labor of love. It’s those people who lose out.