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Delaware Headlines

Punkin Chunkin cancelled again

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For the second year in a row, pumpkins will not be airborne in Delaware.

World Championship Punkin Chunkin announced over social media that they had to cancel the event due to a lack of willing insurers.

"Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of our Board throughout an exhaustive, nation-wide search, we have been unable to locate a willing insurer to adequately protect our host venue, our organization, our fans and our spectators," organization president Ricky Nietubicz said in a statement.

In an interview with Delaware Public Media, Nietubicz says the cost of the policy was becoming a problem, but it wasn't the main factor in the decision.

“There were various exclusions in the various policies that would not cover us and/or our host venue in different sets of circumstances and the coverage wouldn’t be the all-encompassing coverage that was being sought,” he said, noting negotiations had been ongoing up until the decision was made early Thursday morning.

World Championship PunkinChunkin inked a two-year deal with Dover International Speedway in 2014, weeks before it was scheduled to take place. The group canceled last year's festivities after not being able to get the required permits.

It’s been a problem for the organization in recent years after their longtime host in Bridgeville broke off their partnership when an event volunteer involved in an ATV accident sued the landowner.The two parties settled out of court.

State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn (R-Georgetown) introduced a bill that would’ve capped pain-and-suffering damages to $1 million earlier this year, but it was blocked in committee. 

"I don't think they understand the importance of this event has to the downstate community," said Pettyjohn, referencing the senate Democratic Party leaders who voted against it. "I don’t think they realize the magnitude of economic impact it has down here."

The Delaware Trial Lawyers Association also effectively lobbied against the bill.

"They think it was the camel's nose under the tent of tort reform. I'm not going to tackle tort reform,"Pettyjohn said.

Talks across the aisle will continue, as well as with the association. If they're not fruitful, Pettyjohn fears never seeing the event return to Delaware.

Nietubicz notes he can’t say whether a change in law would’ve saved the event. 

“It’s obviously impossible to predict what could’ve or would’ve happened, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.”

Those who bought tickets will get an automatic refund within 7-14 business days .

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