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Punkin Chunkin looking for land to launch comeback

James Dawson
Delaware Public Media

The organizers of Punkin Chunkin are preparing to return from a two-year hiatus. And they would like to keep the event in Delaware.



The gourd-launching competition’s comeback is dependent on land - a lot of land.

And organizers hope to find it in the First State, or nearby Maryland or Virginia.

Frank Payton is the president of the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association (WCPCA).

“Right now we’re just asking for anybody that has large parcels of land to come forward and talk to us. Specifically in the past, we utilized an acreage plan that was about 600-acres. And the 600 acres is occupied by parking, by camping, by vendors and by the participants,” Payton said.

Payton says they need the land rather quickly to get the event up and running in November.

“In order to put everything in motion, it would be really nice if we could have it in Delaware because we know the process of working with the State Police, DelDOT and everything. If it were to happen, we would want to know something in the next couple months,” said Payton.

Payton says he’s already been contacted by landowners in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Arizona.


But Payton reiterates that he hopes it will be in Delaware.

“It’s all about the community. It’s a hard read on what the community really wants us to do. There are some aspects of the community that feels that we are not a savory event,” Payton said.

Payton says many people do not understand the event’s economic impact. He notes it brings in tens of thousands of visitors during the off-season - visitors that spend money on hotels and restaurants, and shop during a time when many businesses aren’t crowded.

Payton adds the event donated $1 million to charity since its started in 1986.

Punkin Chunkin was last held in 2016.  But a woman seriously injured that year sued the event’s organizers and others. A Delaware judge recently threw out that lawsuit, opening the door for the event’s return.  

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.
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