Flinging’s the thing at Bald Eagle State Park


HOWARD — The traffic was pretty bad at peak times, but Saturday’s Punkin Chunkin Fall Festival in Bald Eagle State Park was well worth the wait.

Pleasant weather, lots of food booths and other vendors, a relaxed atmosphere that welcomed kids and dogs, and of course the chance to watch folks fling some pumpkins, all made for a perfect fall day at the lake.

“The air cannon was really something, and the trebuchets were amazing,” one visiting engineer remarked.

Pumpkin-flinging teams set up their devices — about 10 in all — with flingers on both ends of the beach. Picnic tables in the middle afforded fine views of the action, and the vendors set up in two long midways behind them.

Visitors numbered in the thousands. In between the pumpkin-flinging rounds, they were welcome to talk to the creators of the catapults and other contraptions.

The Smokin Lamas from Chester County once again drew fans with their brightly colored flywheel and their unusual design, requiring someone to furiously ride a stationary bike for two minutes to create centrifugal pumpkin-throwing power.

The Big 10 Inch air cannon, which has the claim of being the Guinness world’s record holder for farthest distance to fire a pumpkin, regularly boomed, spit smoke and made “pumpkin pie” out of its ammunition, delighting the crowds with its firing distance.

The air cannon’s team is from the Philadelphia-Delaware-New Jersey region. The name Big 10 Inch refers to its bore — and to the fact that it is 100 feet long.

Monkey’n Around, designed and built by Tracy Wingert of Punxsutawney, was probably the smallest flinger along the beach, but it smacked a pumpkin into the water regularly, just like the big boys. At home, it launches a bowling ball 70 feet.

Skypult was built out of scrap pieces of metal by Richard Beveridge of the Huntingdon area. A low-tech catapult, it stood side by side with the modern air cannon and got its share of flings in during the event.

The chunkin’ went on from about 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., as did the picnicking.

One of the STAT MedEvac helicopters that serve western Pennsylvania landed around noon, and the crew displayed its medical service capabilities to kids and adults alike.

Sponsored by the Howard Volunteer Fire Co., Punkin Chunkin is an event the region can be proud of, and a fun way to make memories with family and friends.