The trebuchet, a machine used in battles in the Middle Ages, would seem to have limited usefulness in modern times. But that's before you consider the sheer entertainment value of seeing pumpkins and other objects hurled hundreds of feet and smashed to pieces.
A trebuchet, if you don't know, is a type of catapult that uses a counterweight to throw projectiles long distances. The annual Punkin Chunkin in Delaware has been using trebuchets, among other throwing machines, to toss pumpkins for 26 years now. A group called the DFW Trebuchet Society is trying to spread the trebuchet love to Dallas-Fort Worth.
The group, led by Tommy Falgout, has held their own version of Punkin Chunkin the past two years and hopes to make next year's event even bigger. Falgout has been trying to make a go of the trebuchet game since 2010, when he and a few friends built one for a pumpkin-throwing competition held by the City of Grapevine — an event that was ultimately canceled.
Undaunted, they completed their trebuchet, stoking the fire to hold their own competition.
Their latest event, held October 13, was on a private ranch in Tioga, which gave the group enough space for the trebuchets, firing range and spectators. Around 30 people on five different teams — all of whom are friends of Falgout's with either an engineering background or, as Falgout puts it, "a strong build mentality" — built their own trebuchets.
Most of the contraptions consisted of plain, undecorated wood, but one team went all out, painting theirs pink and dubbing it the "Hello Trebby." They even had a kids trebuchet on display for the young ones. "It was going off like a machine gun and was a great learning experience," Falgout says.
The top three trebuchets all threw for well over 200 feet, with the one dubbed Frankenchet topping out around 275 feet. The current world record for a trebuchet toss is over 2,300 feet, so it's safe to say the group has their work cut out for them. Along with pumpkins, the group threw a ceramic chicken, disco ball, piñata and something called "The Device" — which looks like it could have been used for torture in the Middle Ages.