Punkin Chunkin Seeks Shore Return

BERLIN — After a one-year hiatus in Illinois, the popular World Championship Punkin Chunkin event is seeking a new venue and a return to Delmarva.

For decades, the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association hosted the iconic fall event in rural areas of neighboring Delaware, but had been without a home since 2016 when a television producer was injured and later sued. That case was ultimately dismissed and the association was cleared, but finding a new home remained a challenge.

Last year, the WCPCA pitched the idea of hosting Punkin Chunkin at the Inlet in Ocean City in October, and despite logistic and safety concerns associated with launching pumpkins thousands of feet into the ocean from downtown Ocean City, resort officials at least entertained the idea. Instead, the association moved the event to a rural area in Illinois last year.

While the event went off without a hitch in Illinois last fall, the association is now seeking a return to its native roots on Delmarva and is looking for a new location somewhere in Maryland, Delaware or Virginia.

“While we consider the 2019 event a success, we also realize the distance from our home base in Sussex County precluded many people from attending,” the statement reads. “Before we commit to taking the world championship on the road in 2020, we want to see if Delmarva can help bring this event closer to home and closer to our dedicated base of volunteers, vendors, teams and fans that supported us for so many years. To do that, we need somewhere willing to hold the event with lots of open space.”

The statement asserts liability issues continue to present challenges for a potential relocation back to Delmarva, particularly Delaware.

“Our roots will always be in Delaware, but without needed legislation limiting the liability that non-profit organizations and landowners leasing their property may be exposed to from frivolous lawsuits, holding the event on private property within the state is not feasible,” the statement reads. “If Delaware is once again not an option for the World Championship Punkin Chunkin, we will continue to expand our search outside of the state, looking throughout the Delmarva region for a suitable property. Maryland, Virginia and beyond hold untapped potential for the WCPCA and, in some cases, already have legislation in place that Delaware lacks.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.