OMG! (Obliterate My Gourd)


A compressed-air cannon sends a pumpkin hurtling to its doom: exploding against the side of a boat at Lawyer’s Moonlight Maze. (Timothy Jacobsen)

This year, spare your Halloween pumpkin a slow, melting, fly-infested death on the front porch. Send it out in a wet blaze of orange glory at one of the many festivals itching to pulverize your decommissioned jack-o’-lantern. Or don’t wait, and start bustin’ pumpkins (and apples and corn) this weekend.

Xtreme Punkin-ing: The World Championship Punkin Chunkin is what happens when science gets out of hand. Over three days, teams destroy pumpkins with self-built machines. Some hurl pumpkins using centrifugal force, some employ springs and/or human power, while others are more straightforward catapults or cannons. The farthest splat wins. The record, set in 2008, for the “Adult Air Class” (compressed-air devices) is 4,483 feet. Spectators can’t participate, but who cares? You might see a record-breaking pumpkin fly a mile.
Bridgeville, Del.; Nov. 1-3, $10; visit punkinchunkin.com for driving directions and GPS coordinates.

Ready, Aim, Splat! If you’ve got an itchy trigger finger, Lawyer’s Moonlight Maze can help. Its compressed-air cannons (one of which is mounted on a military truck) send pumpkins hurtling at giant targets, most of which look like really low-budget Transformers. There’s other stuff to do, like the corn maze commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Sadly, there’s no role for the pumpkin cannons in that.
Lawyer’s Moonlight Maze, 13003 Creagerstown Road, Thurmont, Md.; Fri.-Sun. & Nov. 1-3, hours vary, $7 ($6 extra for two pumpkin shots, $10 for 4); 240-315-8611.

Drop Dead, Gourdgeous: If you don’t think your pumpkin should die alone, it can meet its maker with its fellows as part of Great Country Farms’ “upside-down fireworks display.” A battalion of pumpkins all take the plunge at once from 40 feet up, raining gourd-y terror from above. For those looking for a more singular experience, you can SIY (smash it yourself) at the “Silo Drop” or use a zip line to send it to its end.
Great Country Farms, 18780 Foggy Bottom Road, Bluemont, Va.; Nov. 2-5, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., $8-$10; 540-554-2073.

Fear the Ear: At the Temple Hall Fall Festival, you can shoot small pumpkins at targets like metal scarecrows and cars (special cars with the glass removed, not the cars in the parking lot). AND you can commander a compressed-air corn cannon. Choose an ear and use one of the four guns to pretend you’re fighting some sort of enemy that is impervious to every weapon but corn.
Temple Hall Maize and Fall Festival, 15855 Limestone School Road, Leesburg, Va.; Fri.-Sun. & Nov. 1-5, hours vary, $7-$12 ($2 extra per pumpkin blast); 703-779-9372.

Orange You Glad You’re Not a Gourd: In terms of destruction variety, no one does it better than Cox Farms. During Pumpkin Madness Weekend, your options include watching pumpkins get smashed by a tractor’s hydraulic bucket lift, cheering as they are run over with a hayride tractor and shuddering as they are impaled on a wall of spikes. Then you can trample the carcasses in the “Stomping Grounds,” a path littered with pumpkin remains. Slingshots and a trebuchet, a type of catapult, also torpedo leftover jack-o’-lanterns into the gourd afterlife. The highlight of the weekend is when the farm drops prizewinning giant pumpkins from atop a cherry picker or crane. The third-place winner from this year’s State Fair of Virginia goes down at 4 p.m. Saturday; the first-place winner learns the law of gravity at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Cox Farms, 15621 Braddock Road, Centreville, Va.; Nov. 2 & 3, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; 703-830-4121.

REALLY Keep The Doctor Away: The pumpkin cannon at Summers Farm is spectator-only (a staffer shoots it every two hours on weekends), but the apple blaster is open to everyone and of interest to many, especially football fans. The metal targets include the logos for the Cowboys, the Ravens, the Giants, the Eagles, the Steelers and that team owned by Dan Snyder.
Summers Farm, 5620 Butterfly Lane, Frederick, Md.; through Nov. 3, times vary, $6-$10 (apple blaster extra); 301-620-9316.

Kristen Page-Kirby covers film for The Washington Post Express.
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Marissa Payne | October 24, 2013