Fire in the hole! Count on Punkin Chunkin’s return in 2016

chunk bad to bone smoking

Punkin Chunkin, an international phenomenon in its heyday, is gearing to return this year after cancellations in 2014 and 2015.

 SUSSEX COUNTY – A cancellation casualty the past two autumns, Punkin Chunkin will be held in 2016.

Count on it, says Frank Shade, Punkin Chunkin’s longtime public relations spokesman and the new vice president of the World Championship Punkin Association.

Among the hundreds of New Year's revelers who gathered on The Circle in Georgetown Wednesday night to ring in 2015, from left: Bob Ricker, Frank Shade and B.J. Shade. (Sussex County Post/Glenn Rolfe).

Frank Shade, vice president of the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association, says the organization is committed to holding an event in 2016.

“We’re going to have a ‘Chunk’ this year,” said Mr. Shade. “I am sure that we are committed enough that we will have one somewhere. Everybody in the organization has committed themselves to work hard and make it happen. We’re going to do it and we’re going to have a good time …”

And, Mr. Shade says, there’s a possibility it may return to Sussex County, where the gourd-winging event was born, nurtured and subsequently blossomed into an international spectacle, attracting tens of thousands of spectators to see various contraptions and cannons fire propel pumpkins in an event that doubles a mega-fundraiser for charity and scholarships.

Three parcels identified as possible staging venues are under consideration at present.

“We are meeting with a farmer in Bridgeville – that I can’t mention yet – but he has agreed to talk to us about using his farm,” said Mr. Shade. “I’ve talked to him before. We’re going to talk to him again. So we are really hoping to bring it back to Sussex County.”

Punkin Chunkin events scheduled in Kent County on Dover International Speedway property were cancelled in 2014 and 2015. Factoring in cancellation decisions were insurance and liability concerns.

The last Punkin Chunkin event was held in 2013, on the spacious Wheatley farm property near Bridgeville. A lawsuit filed on behalf of a spotter who was seriously injured in the 2011 event at the Wheatley property led to the farm owner’s decision to notify the WCPA that the event could not be held at that location.

Having lost the Wheatley Farms venue after the 2013 event, Punkin Chunkin’s 29th edition appeared to be headed to The Woodlands at Dover International Speedway – the staging venue for the Fire Fly music festival – in 2014. Those plans were ultimately shelved as were plans for 2015.

“We’re trying to bring this thing back up on its wheels again,” said Mr. Shade, adding more definitive information should be forthcoming in the not so distant future. “We’re going to do our best. There is going to be a ‘Chunk’ somewhere and I want it, as does everybody else … we want it right here in Sussex County.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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