It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s a Pumpkin!-The Great Pumpkin Festival 2014

It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s a Pumpkin!-The Great Pumpkin Festival 2014

It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s a Pumpkin!?

That’s right; on Saturday October 25th, 2014 pumpkins will be soaring through the air at The Union Grove Great Pumpkin Festival. The Great Pumpkin Festival has been a tradition in Union Grove for over 20 years and this year will be bigger and better with more things planned for a fun-filled day. Over the weekend, I sat down with Jennifer Ditscheit, the Great Union Grove Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, to discuss what The Great Pumpkin Fest is all about.


IW:         Let’s start with the basics, when and where is The Great Pumpkin Festival held?

JD:          The Great Pumpkin Festival will be taking place at a new venue this year: the Racine County Fairgrounds [19805 Durand Avenue, Union Grove, WI] on Saturday October 25, 2014 from 10 am-4 pm.

IW:         How much does this event cost to attend? What should I expect as far as parking goes?

JD:          We have received generous support from our event sponsors, such as Subway of Union Grove, and are happy to keep this event free for everyone attending! The Racine County Fairgrounds has ample parking, which will also be free. We are asking that if possible, everyone enter via highway 45 (Main Street) in lieu of the main fairgrounds entrance on highway 11 (Durand Avenue).

IW:         Among a new venue, you also added Pumpkin Chuckin’. Can you tell me more about Pumpkin Chuckin’-what types of machines do people build to chuck pumpkins?

JD:          People can build a few different types of pumpkin chuckers-our event has three chucker categories-trebuchets, catapults, and slingshots. To equal the playing field each of the categories competes and prizes are awarded separately. For example, a trebuchet will likely chuck a pumpkin much further than a slingshot, so all of the trebuchet chuckers will compete against one another and all of the sling shots will compete against one another.

IW:         What kinds of chuckers are currently registered?

JD:          While I can’t give out too much information prior to the competition, we have chuckers registered from each category.

IW:         You talked about each of the chucker categories competing separately; does the chucker with the furthest distance win the competition?

JD:          Possibly. Each team will earn points for various items and the team with the most points will win the competition. Our scoring system includes distance, accuracy, and team spirit. You can read all of about the scoring system here.

IW:         I read online that world record for a pumpkin chuck is over 5,500 feet, do you think any of the chuckers attending the Union Grove Great Pumpkin Festival will chuck that far?

JD:          The chuckers this year will not shoot quite that far. The Guinness world record shot of 5,545.43 feet was shot from a pneumatic cannon. The World Champion Punkin Chunkin Association [WCPCA] world record is 4,694.68 feet, also shot from a cannon. We do not have a division for air cannons this year. The WCPCA world record for pumpkin chuckers that are similar to the chuckers that will be at The Great Pumpkin Festival is 2,862.28 by a catapult.

IW:         What kind of chucker do you expect to shoot the farthest?

JD:          If we are looking at averages based on the WCPCA event held in Delaware, I would say the farthest is a catapult, followed by a trebuchet, and lastly a sling shot.

IW:         So what are the basic differences among the three different kind of chuckers we will see at The Union Grove Great Pumpkin Festival?

JD:          The three different machines, catapult, trebuchet, and slingshot; all use a different kind of stored energy to launch the pumpkin. A catapult uses stretched springs or rubber bands to store energy. When the springs or bands are pulled and then released, the energy is transferred to the catapult arm, which then launches the pumpkin. A trebuchet uses stored potential energy in form or a heavy mass, the counterweight. When the counter weight is “dropped”, the potential energy is transformed into kinetic energy, which is used to fling the long arm of the trebuchet and launch the pumpkin.  Slingshot chuckers depend on strong elastic materials of the sling which are pulled back to provide power to launch the pumpkin.

IW:         So if the three different machines rely on stored energy and physics to launch the pumpkins, could you predict how far a pumpkin will be chucked based on the machine design and mass of the pumpkin?

JD:          Yes! Pumpkin chucking is an excellent real world example of physics at work. We actually worked with area schools who are building chuckers integrated into their STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] curriculum. The students at the area schools designed their chuckers and used mathematics and physics to calculate how far they will be able to launch their pumpkins.

IW:         I’ve heard pumpkin chucking referred to as “pie in the sky”, but what I’m more curious about is will there be “pie not in the sky” at The Great Pumpkin Festival?

JD:          A pumpkin festival wouldn’t be complete without some pumpkin pie! We actually have a pumpkin baking contest that is open to anyone who wants to enter. Baked treats must be registered by 11 am to compete and will be judged at 12 noon.

IW:         Do I have to pre-register for the pumpkin baking contest?

JD:          There is no pre-registration for any of our cooking contests-simply show up with your homemade goods and enter to win. I would recomend visiting our website to read all the contest rules, you can do that here.

IW:         What other kinds of cooking contests are there?

JD:          Another new contest this year is the pie baking contest and pie auction. At 3 pm, we will be auctioning off all of the homemade pies and the baker with the highest bid for their pie, will win a cash prize. We are also doing a chili cook-off, which was started last year. The chili must be entered by 12 noon and our panel of judges will choose a winner at 1 pm. After a winner is chosen, we will open up the chili contest to “People’s Choice”-which allows guests of The Great Pumpkin Festival to try all of the chilis and cast their ballot for favorite chili.

IW:         Will there be food other than chili available for purchase?

JD:          We have some really awesome food vendors that will be on site selling food-including pork chop on a stick, pizza, Beef on the Move [a Racine County Fair favorite], and more.

IW:         And beer…right?

JD:          We partnered with Budweiser and will have three different beers on tap: bud light, spotted cow, and apple ale.

IW:         So we’ve talked about activities that the adults will like, what about for the children?

JD:          We have tons of children’s activities planned for the whole day, from 10 am-4 pm. Some activities include hay rides, Halloween themed games, and possibly even a hay maze. We also will be having a costume contest and parade at 2 pm and suggest that everyone wear costumes.

IW:         Alright, everything sounds like it is going to be a blast! Tell us one last thing we need to know about The Union Grove Great Pumpkin Festival.

JD:          What would the Great Pumpkin Festival be without pumpkins to take home? If you haven’t picked up your pumpkin yet, you can find plenty to choose from while you watch the squash soar. See you all on Saturday!



I hope you all enjoyed this article and will be stop by The Great Pumpkin Festival to enjoy all of the activities planned. Stop by our booth for a free treat, drink coupons, can coozies, and more!  Plus, you will be able to watch me win the pumpkin chuckin competition!

I hope to see you soon at Ironwoodand around town, for GOOD FOOD, GOOD FUN, & GOOD DRINKS!



Do you have another idea of where we should be, who we should be visiting, or local organizations we should support? Email us at ironwood.chophouse.saloon@gmail.com with all of your information!