What's more festive and family-friendly for the fall than hurling pumpkins through the air?
More than a year ago, four Rotary Clubs at Lake of the Ozarks decided to produce an annual event for all ages. Organizers wanted to let more people know what Rotary represents while raising funds for local charities at the same time. Most important to their planning was bringing a family-friendly event to the Lake.
According to Mark D. House with Camdenton’s Rotary club, local Rotarians looked to two other cities for advice: Columbia with its Roots N Blues N BBQ and Springfield's Rock’n Ribs BBQ Festival. House says the four local Rotary groups--Camdenton, Laurie-Sunrise Beach, Lake Ozark Daybreak, and Lake Ozark Noon--hope to draw as many people as those events do, and they plan to succeed by offering the spectacle of pumpkins hurled at targets, including a stack of plastic barrels and three kiddie pools, the first at 100 yards and the third at 200. Tom Abbett, the man constructing a trebuchet designed to fling pumpkins, says weights will be attached to achieve greater distances.
Pumkin Chunkin with a Medieval Trebuchet
Abbett volunteered to research trebuchets and has studied both Medieval and modern design. With a background in building racecars, he’s practiced in the skills required to build according to specifications leading to desired results. He has drawn ideas from several trebuchet plans to create his own design, but like every trebuchet, it will differ from a catapult because of the addition of an arm and sling installed to deliver more leverage and power.
Every hour, and with great ceremony, pumpkins will be flung from the sling and cable attached to the wood frame. Between pumpkins being chunked hourly, adults and kids will have lots more to do, beginning with a 5K Run.
5K Run from Ozarks Amphitheater to Bridal Cave and Back
For $25, runners and walkers can register for a 5K Run, beginning before the gate opens for Pumkin Chunkin Palooza. They will challenge themselves on a route from the Amphitheater to Bridal Cave and back up those hills they just ran down. In exchange for their entry fee, they will receive a tee shirt and admission tickets for Palooza. Winners will also receive certificates to spend at the Palooza.
Part of the fun will be runners in costumes. Prizes will go to a man, a woman, and the team judged to be wearing the best costumes.
Fun for Kids: Pumpkin Decorating, Petting Zoo, a Bounce House, and Carnival
Kids will have their own activities. Not only will they see pumpkins soaring through space--likely for the first time--they will also enjoy a Bounce House, carnival rides, a petting zoo, games, and face painting. Kids will compete in their own category for the pumpkin decorating contest, too.
Adults and kids will compete for top honors by decorating pumpkins. Local growers can also compete for the largest pumpkin, paying $1 per pound, but all entrants in this competition must get the pumpkin to Ozarks Amphitheater on his or her own. The final weigh-in will take place at 4:00 p.m.
To date, three local wineries are planned to be on hand. Seven Springs, Sugarloaf, and Casa de Loco will have wines for tasting and sale.
Three brewers will be present, too. Logboat Brewing in Columbia and two from St. Louis—Four Hands and Urban Chestnut—will be selling craft brews. Each hour, from 1:00 to 4:00, a new keg will be introduced. Votes will determine the best beer by the end of the day.
Artisans and crafters will share their talents and wares with families beginning to think about holiday shopping, but if shopping is not yet a priority, music and food will be available.
Honoring Missouri in Food, Drink, and Music
Local Rotarians are using native Missouri talent. Vendors offering food, drink, crafts, and art will be Missouri’s own. Applications to provide merchandise at the event are available online. A portion of all food sales will be dedicated to the charities receiving support with Pumkin Chunkin Palooza.
The two music groups booked to date are from Missouri, too. The Norman Jackson Band is from Springfield. They will bring their own award-winning blues to Lake of the Ozarks. The band took third place at the 2016 International Blues Challenge.
The other band is M-80s, a popular cover band delivering music from the 80s. This band is from Kansas City.
In addition, firefighters from Lake Ozark with the heart and lungs for bagpipes will be helping out. They will call all those present as the hourly keg of craft brew debuts.
Made Possible by Sponsors. More Still Being Accepted
Local Missourians figure prominently in another way for Pumkin Chunkin Palooza. They offset costs so that more of the revenue can go directly to four charities.
Above and Beyond Roofing is the naming sponsor responsible for the largest donation. Smith Moore is sponsoring the trebuchet construction.
Others already posted on the event’s web site are Central Bank of Lake of the Ozarks, First National Bank, mPix, Ozarks Amphitheater, and Woods Supermarket. Sponsors receive advertising on the Sponsor web page, on billboards, Facebook, and in print publications. They also receive admission tickets according to their donations.
To become a sponsor, contact Mary Kay Von Brendel at 504-351-4655 or download an application to submit.
Pumkin Chunkin Palooza Benefits Local Charities
Sharing the assets resulting from a fun, family-friendly event are Kids Harbor in Osage Beach, Westlake Aquatic Center in Laurie, Lake Area Food Pantries in communities around the lake, and Lake Regional Hospital, headquartered in Osage Beach.
Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for kids, and $25 for a family pack with tickets sold at the gate on the day of the event.