Punkin chuckin in IllinoisIt’s impossible not to smile when someone shoots a pumpkin out of a cannon. Or a catapult. Or trebuchet. (I’ll tell you the difference in a minute.) That’s how they celebrate fall in Morton, Illinois. The town, outside Peoria, Illinois, is home to an annual Punkin Chuckin Contest. It’s a great family weekend vacation destination just a few hours west of Chicago.

In addition to the Morton, Illinois, punkin chuckin event, scheduled this year for Oct. 19, there also are punkin’ chuckers in Nassau, Delaware, home to the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association.  The event there is Nov. 1-3 this year.

The event in Illinois celebrates Morton’s claim to be the pumpkin capital of the world. Morton is home to a huge Libby pumpkin packing plant that claims to be the source of 85 percent of the canned pumpkin of the world.

Shooting Pumpkins Out of Cannons

One of the highlights of the Morton Punkin Chuckin is the pumpkin cannon, the Aludium Q36 Pumpkin Modulator, the world record holder for punkin chuckin. But it’s just one of the contraptions that will be tossing pumpkins.

There also will be plenty of catapults and trebuchets. As promised, the differences between them: Catapults use springs to increase the thrust while trebuchets use only counterweights.

After each official chuck, spotters on ATVs zoom across the field to mark the distance and determine whether any chucker breaks the elusive one-mile barrier.

Other Pumpkin Fun in Morton

During the slow chuckin’ moments, organizers host a pumpkin hand toss contest and set up a car in the field that gets pumpkinated by the Q36.

The event is free, but parking is $5 per car and there are a host of pumpkin delicacies to buy–ice cream, pie, chili (which was surprisingly good)–pumpkin souvenirs and more. We spent about $30 the entire day.

Bring lawn chairs, coats, hats and mittens. The wind really whips across the harvested farmland.