The Okotoks Optimist Club’s third annual Pumpkin Chunkin’ event, where participants’ homemade trebuchets are brought out to launch pumpkins through a field south of Okotoks, is expected to be bigger than ever with a new competitive element being introduced.
“We have about seven registered machines so far, all trebuchets, all launching pumpkins,” said Amy Giroux of the Optimist Club.
Trebuchets, while similar in appearance to a catapult, feature a more complex combination of a swinging counterweight to a sling-loaded system that can send a payload soaring.
Her husband Guy, who championed the event building the first trebuchet, will also be taking part in the competition.
“I think my husband’s looking forward to the actual competition this year,” Giroux said.
Taking place on Oct. 30 adjacent the Country Living and Garden Centre, the event will feature not only the trebuchet trials, but also child-oriented activities, Giroux added.
“The actual competition will be running 11 to 3, then after that it’s just fun and games, with fire pits, food trucks, and kids can wear costumes,” she said.
“We have a Junior Optimist Club now, which is made up of five-year-olds to 12-year-olds, and there’s about 20 of them."
The Junior Optimist Club will be on site with free activities for children, and everyone is encouraged to wear Halloween costumes.
“So it’s not just adults launching pumpkins into a field for fun, but it’s actually kids getting involved mechanically and learning how to launch pumpkins and how to make a catapult at home,” she said, adding children will learn how to make popsicle stick catapults at home.
“Come get your pumpkins, come decorate a pumpkin to take home for Halloween.”
As the event was snowed on last year, fire pits will be in place.
Ever-changing COVID restrictions and guidelines were also a concern for Giroux, who wanted to make sure she could hold the event.
“We’re really excited, we were in touch with AHS and weren’t too sure if it would be a go,” she said. “I kept touching base and as soon as we got the call, I think every one of our members were jumping up and down."
Money raised from the event will be donated to the Okotoks Food Bank.
The Okotoks chapter of the Optimist’s Club itself is only in its third year.
“We started off just creating a club that was meant for people of Okotoks that wanted to belong to a fun social club,” Giroux said.
“It’s kind of bloomed from that to ‘Okay, we’re a fun social club, but we’re also really wanting to put our name out there as wanting to service Okotoks.’
“We’ve got some really great, really eager members that want to benefit Okotoks in a way for youth on our own, not just donating to other non-profits, but what can the club give to the youth of Okotoks.”
While she didn’t want to spoil the surprise just yet, Giroux said the club has plans in store.
“We’ve got some plans this year,” she said. “We’ll start really going head-on with some projects for how to actually help youth in Okotoks right from us.”
The event runs Oct. 30 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.