Download the WREG news and weather apps today

Annual Punkin Chunkin’ festival sends pumpkins sailing through the air

CLAYTON, NY. -- Most people throw away pumpkins after Halloween, but not in Clayton. They do it a few weeks earlier.

"It is a lot of fun to pull and to see how far it can go. When you almost hit the boat a couple of times, that was pretty cool," said Sean Bailey.

Thousands of people were on the waterfront to see these pumpkins go into the Saint Lawrence River. It's the fifth annual Punkin Chunkin' festival.

"I actually got the idea from my daughter," said Mike Strouse. "She went to a farm where they were throwing pumpkins. I thought well that looks like a lot of fun. Five years later, this is what evolved to. People really like throwing pumpkins in the Saint Lawrence River."

Thirteen adult and youth teams built trebuchets... which are a type of catapult. The speed and distance of each toss is recorded. The fastest pumpkin was launched at 140 miles per hour.

The builders of these trebuchets say it's a lot of hard work and takes a lot of science to create them but they're also a lot of fun.

"The counterweights are what gives the machine all of this energy," explained Mike Hazlewood with Rusted Redemption. "It drops rapidly and when those wheels hit the track, the main throwing arm accelerates."

"In Pennsylvania, we built half of it on our back porch, and I don't know where they built their half," said Toby Pennington.

"Every year, it's really all about the testing and making sure the sling is operational," added Mary Jane Pennington.

No matter how far the pumpkins fly, each one made a big splash in the seaway.