It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a ... pumpkin?

Pumpkin-chuckin' trebuchet is one attraction at pumpkin festival

Pumpkin-chuckin' trebuchet is one attraction at pumpkin festival

October 11, 2007|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A John Deere tractor will cock the 11-foot arm of the pumpkin-hurling trebuchet for anyone willing to pull the trigger.

The projectile pumpkins -which have gone as far as 430 feet - will be launched at Renfrew Park on Saturday.

It's among several activities at the 14th annual Renfrew Pumpkin Festival, a joint fundraiser for Renfrew Institute for Cultural & Environmental Studies and Renfrew Museum and Park.

Other activities include pumpkin carving and a pumpkin pie-baking contest. The event draws between 1,400 to 1,500 people a year and goes through 3,000 pounds of pumpkins, said Bonnie Iseminger, administrator for Renfrew Museum and Park.

"It's a festival of pumpkins," Iseminger said.

And how better to celebrate the pumpkin than to send it soaring in the air only to watch it crash into the earth?


Two of the keepers of the pumpkin-chuckin' trebuchet - Bill Pflager, a mechanical engineer from Waynesboro, and Garrett Blanchet, a doctor at Mont Alto Family Practice - have witnessed its power many times.

Pflager and Blanchet, with a host of community volunteers and donations from local businesses, built the trebuchet (pronounced "treb-yoo-SHAY") six years ago.

Renfrew's trebuchet is a counter-weight machine - a heavy weight drops, thrusting the arm up rapidly and hurling the payload. It's modeled after 12th-century siege artillery, 30-ton machines four times larger than Renfrew's trebuchet, that were designed to knock down medieval fortress walls.

Trebuchets, Blanchet said, came into existence in China around 400 B.C.

"(It was) the first weapon of mass destruction, really," Blanchet said.

The trebuchet will not be used as a weapon of mass destruction at the pumpkin festival.

Children, sometimes with mom's or dad's help, are usually the ones who pull the trigger putting the trebuchet into action, Blanchet said.

People can personalize the pumpkins they wish to send airborne.

"One little girl a couple years ago (drew) daddy's head on it," Blanchet said.

If you go ...

WHAT: 14th annual Renfrew Pumpkin Festival, a joint fundraiser for Renfrew Institute for Cultural & Environmental Studies and Renfrew Museum and Park

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13. Rain or shine.

WHERE: Renfrew Park, 1010 E. Main St., Waynesboro, Pa.

COST: Adult admission costs $6, $4 for children ages 4 to 12, and free for children 3 and younger. Admission includes lunch - black bean or vegetable soup, homemade bread, apples and apple cider. Other food will be sold separately. Pumpkins also will be sold.

MORE: Parking is available in Renfrew's lower lot off Welty Road. Limited handicapped parking is available behind the Visitors Center barn. For more information, call the institute at 717-762-0373 or the museum at 717-762-4723.

Schedule for the Renfrew Pumpkin Festival

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Renfrew Park, Waynesboro Pa.

Daylong activities include:

· Bluegrass music by Twin Hill Express

· "Pumpkin-chuckin'" trebuchet will run throughout the day

· Scarecrow-making workshop led by local Girl Scouts - Participants may bring their own long-sleeve shirts, pants and hats, or use clothes provided. Straw and instructions also will be provided.

· Corn necklace workshop - Using needles and thread, children can create their own corn necklaces.

· Children's activities - tractor-drawn hayrides, balloon-tying clown, face painting and a petting zoo

· Pumpkin pie contest - Judging begins at 11 a.m., with ribbons and prizes awarded for the best pie, and for second and third place. Call Renfrew Museum at 717-762-4723 for contest rules and an entry form.

· Pumpkin carving - Artists will help guests carve pumpkins. Safe carving tools and adult supervision will be provided.

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