Friday, November 11, 2005

Delaware's Own Punkin Chunkin is Now an International Story

The deeply serious, international news magazine The Economist has a story on World Championship Punkin Chunkin this week.

The story (Pumpkin-shooting: The meaning of America) starts by placing Punkin Chunkin squarely into an international context:
IF THE United Nations were to send weapons inspectors to Delaware, they would find a surprising number of superguns being assembled in backyards. If interrogated, the unshaven men tinkering with these enormous weapons would say they were building devices for hurling pumpkins great distances. The men from the UN would doubtless find this hard to believe.
It's great to see Punkin Chunkin getting the wide attention it has gotten lately. It's a quirky sport born here in my home town and one of its earliest stars was Karen and my next door neighbor for a few years at the start of our marriage.

We don't attend anymore; Punkin Chunkin has gotten too big and I miss the days when the rickety rotary-arm pumpkin flingers were the most powerful entrants. My beef with compressed-air cannons is simple: they fire the vegetables so fast that you can't watch the flight of the pumpkin.

But it's fun to track the event from a short way away. I watch for mentions in the press and follow the box-scores (so to speak).

This is the first time, though, that I've seen Punkin Chunkin used to sum up what it means to be an American:
All in all, Punkin Chunkin is a symbol of what makes America great. Only in the richest country on earth could regular guys spend tens of thousands of dollars building a pumpkin gun. Only in a nation with such a fine tradition of inventiveness, not to mention martial prowess, would so many choose to. And only in a land of wide open spaces would they be able to practise their chunkin without killing their neighbours. Alas, the 285-acre cornfield where Punkin Chunkin has been held for the past 20 years is soon to be sold and developed. But the chunkers will probably move to Maryland.
Final note: Punkin Chunkin won't be moved to Maryland. The developer has promised one more year on the farm near Millsboro and has another large farm under contract that can probably host the event in 2007.

It is true that the pace of development around here does threaten the long-term availability of Punkin Chunkin sites. On the other hand, one can perhaps infer from the developer's recent generosity that the pace at which lots are selling in the many subdivisions that are being approved is starting to slow.

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