Friday, October 25, 2013

Last Fling Pumpkin Sling

If you ever find yourself in Warren County, NJ on the second-to-last weekend in October, then you should definitely check out the Last Fling Pumpkin Sling. It's an annual event where local Boy Scouts, high school robotics and engineering groups, and other adult groups get together, build giant slingshots, and use their machines to see who can launch pumpkins the farthest. I went last weekend and saw some VERY impressive launches!

The picture to the left is of all the machines that were launching on Sunday. This is a two-day event, but I wasn't able to attend on both Saturday and Sunday.

If you want to get an idea of how far some of these groups are able to get their pumpkins to fly, then check out the chart at right. These were the distance scores from Saturday. The group at the very top launched a pumpkin just over 2,000 feet!

This is a fun family event with a special kids area where kids can practice "launching" their own pumpkins, get their faces painted, make sand art, and more. I'd say that if you have a curious kid who is 8 and up, he or she will enjoy this event. There are certain times during the day when spectators are allowed behind the launching lines to examine the machines up close. I can see lots of kids being really excited to see the machines and talk to the groups who have built them. What a great way to get kids interested in engineering!!

For the adults, there are local vendors selling goods. And then, of course, there is food. The prices are not inflated at all, either. Most of the food is provided by local farms or local churches/scout groups, etc. I had apple cider, a soft pretzel, and homemade pumpkin fudge. Really good stuff!

During both days of the Pumpkin Sling, there are fall foliage tours. You get on a school bus, and the driver and a volunteer give you a guided tour of a historical site in the county. The tour I went on was to Hoff-Vanatta Farmstead. This is a 100+-acre farm with a smaller seven-acre portion where all the historic buildings are located. The buildings are being rehabilitated by grants from the Garden State Preservation Trust Fund administered by New Jersey Historic Trust. Without the work of the Harmony Township Historic Preservation Commission, these buildings might have been bulldozed without a second thought. I think it's cool that these buildings are still standing, and that volunteers are doing all they can to preserve the rich history in this small town.

This was my second time attending the Pumpkin Sling, and it was definitely even better the second time around. There's nothing like spending a sunny fall day sitting around on hay bales, chit chatting with friends, drinking apple cider, and marveling how people are able to build these cool pumpkin-slinging machines.

I can't recommend this event enough! It might seem like it's in the middle of nowhere, but it's definitely worth the trip. Even the drive there is beautiful!

Do you have any fall events that you like to attend each year? Share them with us in the comments!

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