A festive atmosphere and pumpkins being tossed long distances was on the agenda at the 2nd annual Warren County Last Fling Pumpkin Sling, which took place on October 22 & 23 in Harmony Township. The event was sponsored by the Highlands Tourism Partnership. Admission included a ¼ mile tractor pulled wagon ride from the parking area to the field where the event was held. Activities included live entertainment, food stands and vendors selling their wares, hot-air balloon rides, horse rides and a mule-pulled cart. But, the main attraction was the catapult and trebuchet pumpkin slinging competition. The goal was to sling a 2-3 lb. pumpkin the farthest.
Competitions took place in youth and adult categories and a combination category for youth and adult. And as an added attraction the teams tried to hit a car for a $100 bonus which was driven around in the field near where the team’s last pumpkin had landed.
The Pumpkin Sling was inspired by the World Championship Punkin Chunkin competition, a Super Bowl for engineering wonks held annually in Bridgeville, Delaware, which was broadcast on the Discovery Channel. The Discovery Channel had a crew at this year’s Last Fling Pumpkin Sling; recording footage and interviews which will be used in a future show.
Most teams used some kind of a fancy catapult, an ancient weapon also known as a trebuchet. The trebuchet is a type of catapult designed with a pivoting arm that can throw objects at great distances depending on the height of the structure, the length of the throwing arm, the weight of the counterweight, and the weight of the object being thrown, among many other variables. The arm has a sling with a pumpkin attached at one end, and a counterweight at the other.
All the machines were outclassed by Sir-Chunks-A-Lot, a monster catapult powered by an industrial strength rubber band. Sir-Chunks-A-Lot was a past winner at the World Championship Punkin Chunkin contest in Delaware. The Berlin, NJ-based team that built it launched a light green, 6-pound pumpkin over 2,100 feet. They also launched an 8-pound bowling ball which sailed over 2,200 feet. The group cannot use standard, less dense orange pumpkins because the force of the catapult causes them to break apart on lift off.
Mount Olive Robotics, also known as Mort 11, was the reigning champion of last year’s Pumpkin Sling. The Mount Olive High School robotics team did not disappoint this year by launching several of their pumpkins well over 900 feet. Other schools which entered teams during the 2-day event were Warren Hills Regional High School, Phillipsburg High School and 8th grade students from Bethlehem Christian School.
The Pumpkin Crusaders was a family operated catapult, designed by a student for a 7th grade science project last year. This was their second year in the competition. The family from nearby White Township, NJ had several tosses around the 200 foot mark.
Between pumpkin tosses, spectators could view the machines close-up and talk with the competitors who were very hospitable. Distances were measured by a state of the art GPS system. Hope to see you at next year’s Pumpkin Sling in Warren County!