Saturday, October 13, 2012

Still Life With Robin: The Pumpkin Missiles of October

by Peggy Robin

October is upon us and it’s time to get out the pumpkin carving utensils (or start ransacking the drawers trying to remember where they might have been stowed after use last year). With two daughters away at college, I’m on my own for carving pumpkins this time. Hmm, maybe I’ll just let technology take care of it for me, by putting out a display screen with an endlessly looping slideshow of other pumpkin carvers’ creations. Take a look at what  some people can do with a paring knife and a hollowed-out vegetable:

If you want to see some more fantastically carved gourds, then take a look at the winner of the “This Old House” 2011 Pumpkin Carving contest:

Q: What’s the better than a pumpkin carving competition?
A: A pumpkin boat race!

I’m talking about the annual Damariscotta, Maine Pumpkin Regatta. Every year competitors grow Cinderella-coach-sized pumpkins, hollow them out, fit them with rudders, seats, and paddles (for the human-powered division) or outboard motors (for the motorized division) and race for prizes in an event that I have on my bucket list to see once in real life. The Youtube video will have to do, in the meantime. Here’s a brief look at the 2010 race, which shows off the event better than more recent uploads: . There are some good stills of the 2012 race here:

Yet I am not prepared to call the Pumpkin Regatta the greatest pumpkin-centric competition of the year. That honor belongs to an event that takes place every year on the first weekend after Halloween, the massive, annual, and venerable Punkin’ Chunkin' (, now in its 26th year. In this event, competitors attempt to propel a pumpkin farther than any pumpkin has ever been flung -- by means of catapults, centrifuges, trebuchets, rocket launchers, and other marvels of engineering, divided into the categories found here:

You can see any or all of these mighty forces of pumpkin propulsion live by trekking out to Royal Farms, 18637 Sussex Highway, Bridgeville, Delaware on November 2nd through 4th, or you can wait until the Science Channel broadcasts the show boiled down to the best shots by the most talented and ingenious competitors, on Thanksgiving night at 8pm.  You can see a preview, to get a sense of just how awesome it is, at


Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv,, and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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