Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Punkin' Chunkin looking to bring event back, closer to Delaware

James Dawson/Delaware Public Media

Punkin’ Chunkin organizers are looking at a possible return to the region after making a major move a year ago.


The well-known gourd launching event started in Sussex County in 1986. Last year, for the first time ever ,it was not held in Delaware, setting up shop in Rantoul, Illinois instead.

The two-day event drew an estimated 4- to 5,000 people there, and was deemed a success by World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association’s board of directors.


But board member Kevin Thompson concedes it was not quite the same.


“Being out there we realized that we were a significant distance from our home-base here in Delaware and that affected not only fan turnout, but turnout from some of our teams and machines and a turnout for our volunteer base as well,” said Thompson.

With that in mind, Thompson says the board is looking at bringing the event back “closer to home.” Organizers would like to be in Delaware, but challenges to doing that remain.


“We realize with some of the current legislation in place - or lack thereof - within Delaware, legislation that states like Maryland do have in place - that protects - that basically puts a cap on the liability for events like ours, that we’re going to have a hard time finding a piece of land in Delaware.”


Thompson notes there is currently no move by lawmakers to purpose legislation that would create a liability cap, so the only realistic scenario where Punkin' Chunkin could return to Delaware would be if the state or Sussex County agree to host the event on state/county-owned land, offering it stronger liability protection that way.

He says organizers are looking for a site with about 600 acres and plan to visit one in Northern Virginia in the coming weeks.  Thompson adds a final call on a site for this year is expected by April.


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