Now that cable TV’s Science Channel has ended its partnership with Delaware’s World Championship Punkin Chunkin, organizers are looking for support to keep the event alive.
The southern Delaware fall tradition of Punkin Chunkin was first broadcast on nationally on cable’s Discovery Channel in 2002. Starting in 2008, Discovery’s sibling station Science Channel has broadcast parts of the Sussex County event timed around the Thanksgiving holiday.
The 2016 broadcast was cancelled after a producer was injured when an air cannon malfunctioned. Now, Punkin Chunkin president Frank Payton says the Science Channel will not return to Delaware for the 2017 event. “With them withdrawing from the event, a major portion of the funding that we need to operate has left with them,” Payton said. “We are in the market to establish new mutually beneficial partnerships for 2017.”
Payton said the group already has a commitment from a farmer to host the event at Wheatley Farms near Bridgeville on Nov. 3-5, but they need more support to make it happen. “If you wish to see the Chunk continue, we need your support now more than ever,” Payton said in a plea for help. The group is actively seeking a network to take over the broadcast rights for the event in addition to other companies that could sponsor the event through advertisements.
The group is also taking donations at punkinchunkin.com/weneedhope. For organizers, keeping the event going is about more than just having a fun time. “We donate locally and nationally to other non-profits and scholarships for deserving youth,” Payton said. He estimates that more than a million dollars has been given back to the community.