Punkin Chunkin cancelled for second consecutive year

DOVER – After nearly three decades as a Sussex County fixture, World Championship Punkin Chunkin won’t be held in Delaware for a second consecutive year.

The cancellation announcement of this year’s event, scheduled Nov. 7-8 at Dover International Speedway, was made public Thursday morning via social media on World Championship Punkin Chunkin’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WorldChampionshipPunkinChunkin?fref=ts.

chunkin

Having lost its staging venue, Wheatley Farms near Bridgeville, after the 2013 event amid liability issues sparked by a lawsuit filed by a spotter seriously injured in an ATV accident at the 2011 event, Punkin Chunkin was scheduled to move to Dover International Speedway’s The Woodlands property, which hosts the Fire Fly music festival, in the fall of 2014.

That event was cancelled.

World Championship Punkin Chunkin had been held at several Sussex County locations from 1986 through 2013.

State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, who proposed legislation last January that would place a monetary cap on certain lawsuit damages, expressed disappointment in learning of the cancellation.

“Obviously, I am disappointed that they weren’t able to find the insurance coverage that they needed to hold the event up in Dover,” said Sen. Pettyjohn. “In seeing that I’ve got to wonder whether or not the bill that I sponsored that is still in the Executive Committee – Senate Bill 14 – would have assisted them in being able to find an insurance carrier that would insure their event.”

brian pettyjohn 19th senate district

State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn

Senate Bill 14 would set a $1 million cap on non-economic damages, like pain and suffering damages, for non-profits, Sen. Pettyjohn said.

“You would think that with a bill like that there would be insurance carriers that would be more willing to write a policy to cover the event,” said Sen. Pettyjohn, who plans to press the issue when the General Assembly convenes next year. “I am going to do a renewed push when we get back in January to have that bill released and hopefully we can get it released and get this issue resolved.”

“I hope that we will be able to use this to underscore the need for some type of relief to our non-profit entities,” Sen. Pettyjohn added. “Losing this event again this year will more than likely force Punkin Chunkin to move their event to another state. I hope that with these recent developments that the Executive Committee will choose to release this bill so that an organization that contributed over $100,000 to charities, awarded over $50,000 in scholarships to Delaware students, and had an estimated $15 million economic impact can continue to operate in Delaware.”

With charity and scholarship arms, Punkin Chunkin had grown into an iconic event, annually drawing tens of thousands of spectators, international exposure and a primetime Thanksgiving night airing on Discovery Science.

Punkin Chunkin’s Facebook cancellation announcement reads as follows:

2015 Punkin Chunkin Cancelled

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the cancellation of the 2015 World Championship Punkin Chunkin event. 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. We cannot be more thankful for the efforts of our volunteers, the best efforts of our agents and the patience of our teams, our fans, our prospective hosts at Dover International Speedway, our vendors, and our sponsors through this difficult time.”

“From our humble beginnings in Sussex County in 1986, we are proud to have grown our organization into a national phenomenon. Through our fans’ and sponsors’ support, we’ve donated over a million dollars to a variety of local, regional and national charities as well as funded dozens of scholarships. We’re committed to the continuation of our sport and of our charitable work, and we are actively seeking alternatives as we move forward.”

“Customers who purchased tickets to attend the event will see the 100 percent refund on their credit cards within 7-14 business days. Any questions can be directed to 800-441-7223.”

“As Chunkers, we’re hoping that everyone can see pumpkins fly this year. For a complete list of licensed events, please visit www.punkinchunkin.com.”

The Sussex County Post delivers news from Georgetown and southern Delaware. Follow @SussexPost on Twitter.

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