PETERSBURG, NE — Pumpkins are a central part of Halloween festivities in Petersburg, Nebraska, like much of the nation. However, they treat the pumpkins a bit differently in the Boone County town… they chunk them.
Sunday was the 13th annual Punkin Chunkin celebration, where air cannons and catapults gather to launch the round, orange fruit. Punkin Chunkin Committee member Jeff Temme says the process is quite simple, really.
“You take a propane tank discarded, test it for strength and weld a pipe on it. Then pump it full of air and put a pumpkin in it and it’s entertaining,” Temme said.
It’s entertaining enough to attract a crowd to Larry and Shirley Henn’s farm about a mile east of Petersburg on the last Sunday of October every year. Attendance at this installment was estimated at over 800, including several people who identified themselves as first-timers. Why do people come to Punkin Chunkin?
“Most people have never seen a pumpkin being chunked,” Temme said. “So they want to see, it’s new.”
The committee emphasizes the family-friendly nature of the event with other entertainment including a petting zoo, pumpkin painting and outhouse races. The big show, though, is the distance launching contest. It was won this year by Grandpa’s Gun, which can launch a pumpkin over 4,000 feet. One of Grandpa’s Gun’s operators, Easton Baumgart is impressed by the device and his team.
“It’s big, it’s strong, has power and we have all these helpers here,” Baumgart said.
For Temme and the organizing committee, they just like seeing people have fun.
“And you look around and there’s people with their children and grandchildren and they’re smiling,” Temme said. “It’s just a happy little afternoon by Petersburg, Nebraska.”
Donations for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital were accepted throughout the event.
Tune in to NCN Channel 35 on Monday to see a special broadcast of Punkin Chunkin.