Punkin Chunkin organizers recently announced that the event was being moved out of Sussex County, and now, it’s been moved right out of 2014, as well. The pumpkin-flinging festival, which was to begin its first season at Dover International Speedway on Oct. 24 to 26, 2014, has instead been postponed to Nov. 6 to 8, 2015.
“It’s just frustrating. You have 20 events like this and suddenly you have come up against a brick wall,” said Frank E Shade, director of media and promotions for World Championship Punkin Chunkin. “We beat up against it a lot, and there’s a lot of sore, bloody foreheads,” he said with a chuckle.
“There’s frustration across the board, with the viewing the public, chunkers, officers, sponsors. Everyone’s frustrated,” said Shade. “Logistically, this was a monster event to set up every year, let alone to move and try to set up at a new location.”
“Moving an event the size of Punkin Chunkin is not easy, even when time is not a factor,” said John Huber, Punkin Chunkin president. “Both the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association and Dover International Speedway were cautiously optimistic that the event would happen as scheduled. Ultimately, the collective decision was made to postpone the event.”
Shade said there’s no finger-pointing going on in Dover or in organizers’ Lewes headquarters.
“DIS was very gracious. They did everything they could do, but there’s a big difference in what was required in Dover and Kent County on business-owned land, as opposed to what we ran up against in Sussex County on a farm.”
Until now, Punkin Chunkin has held 29 events in 28 years. It had a long run on the Wheatley Farm in Bridgeville, where even the stars of the television show “Mythbusters” made a few appearances. (Less than two weeks ago, now-former “Mythbusters” cast members Kari Byron and Tory Belleci were reported as having signed on to reprise their roles as hosts of Discovery’s televised coverage of the Delaware event for 2014.)
Typically, 115 chunkers have competed over the three-day weekend, ranging from teams with monstrous air cannons to Boy Scouts with catapults.
However, Dale Wheatley became less eager to host the festival on his property after a lawsuit was filed by a former Chunkin volunteer, Daniel Fair, who was paralyzed in an all-terrain vehicle accident during Punkin Chunkin 2011. Wheatley Farms and the Punkin’ Chunkin’ Association were in the crosshairs of a more than $4.5 million lawsuit. So, the event had to find a new home, which then led to the announcement that Punkin Chunkin 2014 was a no-go.
“We’re sure we’re going to be well-prepared for the 2015 event. The momentum’s up and running now,” said Shade. “We continue work on making the 2015 even bigger and better. We have every intention of being back.”
“With one year of lead time, we are confident we can pull off a first-class event for fans, sponsors and competitors,” Huber said, promising the dedication of Punkin Chunkin Association and DIS.
Customers who purchased the $10 tickets to attend the event will see the refund on their credit cards within seven to 14 business days. The same applies to camping and tailgating purchases. Any questions concerning refunds can be directed to 1-800-441-7223.
“We’re definitely not going to hold to, or take, anybody’s money,” Shade emphasized.
For more information, visit www.punkinchunkin.com.