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Leftover pumpkins put to good use

Brian Jewkes loads the pumpkin onto the trebuchet.
Chris Bernard launches the pumpkin and it flies approximately 762 feet.

A little bit of history was created on Nov. 7 in Castle Dale as Emery County Recreation sponsored the First Annual Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival. A small but excited crowd watched the main event which was smashing pumpkins. A good use for the discarded Halloween pumpkins from October.

Chris Bernard and Brian Jewkes designed and built a trebuchet to launch pumpkins, and with their crew of Bryan and Joey Bernard put on quite a show. What in the world is a trebuchet, and why in the world would anyone want to build one?

A trebuchet is a medieval siege engine with a sling attached to a long wooden arm for hurling large stones. Now that we've given the official definition, we can move on to the advanced engineering involved in Chris and Brian's trebuchet.

No wood, welded tube piping, cable sling, ball bearings on the fulcrum, 15 ton winch to arm it, ratchet release, six foot upper arm, 600 pounds of counter weight, and on and on too much science. Father and observer Valynn Bernard said, "All I understand is that baby can chuck a pumpkin, to be exact, how about 762 feet. For you sports fans out there, that's more than two and a half football fields, and those of us more into food, you're looking at lining up 1,524 hot dogs topped however you like.

"Why build it? I haven't the slightest idea, and to find the answer you'll have to drag Chris and Brian out of the small, probably padded, rooms Joy Manufacturing keeps them safely in, to figure it out.

A few possible answers, like, because it was there, to go where no man has gone before, I had tons of steel lying around, a welder, and six months with nothing to do, all come to mind. Bottom line is their machine can launch a 10 pound pumpkin a very long ways.

"Here's a good reference for just how awesome the trebuchet is they built. Every year there is a pumpkin launching contest in Moab, with thousands of spectators attending, and dozens of contestants. The winners over the years have never launched one single pumpkin more than 400 feet. It sounds like these homegrown boys are pretty good.

"In addition to the pumpkin chuckin', GayLee Jeffs and Tab Weihing, from Emery County Recreation, had some other fun activities for those who came to watch pumpkins fly. There was a candy corn toss, and pumpkin carving, however, the most entertaining was the kids and adults pumpkin seed spitting contest. Winners names are being withheld to protect the innocent, but it was hilarious.

"County Commissioner, Laurie Pitchforth, gave a heartfelt thanks to all who came out to kick off Emery County's Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival, and especially to Chris and Brian for all the hard work they put into their trebuchet. I'm sure she feels, like all those there, it might be a good idea to spread the word on how exciting it is to see championship pumpkin chuckin', and if there is anyone out there who can challenge Chris and Brian next year.

"I've seen a horse fly, I've seen a dragon fly, I've even seen a house fly, I've never seen an elephant fly, but I can now say, I've seen a pumpkin fly, at least 762 feet," said Bernard.

Emery County Recreation is looking at establishing a tradition with the Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival and encourages everyone to get to work on their launcher for next year. The event was held on DesBeDove road just below the sheriff's office.

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