Loud, raging festivals are not of rare occurrence these days, but for one to be successful by drawing masses of people, it helps to have a combination of any of the following elements:

1) Alcohol

2) Good food

3) Music

4) Obscure, “semi”-celebrities

5) Offensively colossal contraptions jettisoning projectiles over half of a mile into the stratosphere

When my girlfriend informed me that every November there was an event which incorporated all five of these aspects, I almost hopped in my car immediately to drive to Punkin Chunkin. Punkin Chunkin is a 25 year-old competition-turned-festival that gathers drinking and barbecuing spectators to a massive field that holds a unique competition for bored engineers, mad scientists, and frustrated demolitionists. There, they determine who’s catapult, trebuchet, or cannon (yes, cannon) can hurl a discarded Halloween pumpkin the furthest. After Halloween, I usually just throw my pumpkins in the garbage, but hey, to each his own…

Once the day of launching  came, my group of friends and I drove through the sticks of Delaware, and were introduced to the ridiculousness that would surely continue throughout the day. On the way over, we passed a house with a hand-written advertisement which read “Helicopter rides- 2 for $50”. Surely enough, in his backyard rested the most out-of-context helicopter we had ever seen. When we were approaching the venue, alongside our car was an ATV pulling a wagon full of hay, and sitting on individual bales were what I could only assume was the driver’s family. All I could conclude from this is that there are no laws whatsoever in Delaware.

Once we could set aside the culture shock, we entered a circus of projectile throwing monstrosities, stages of cover bands, and campsites with no shortage of convivial drunks. Amidst the chaos, I made an observation, and then had a conversation which I’m sure was repeated thousands of times throughout the day:

Me:  Hey, look, on that hydraulic lift up there!

Friend: Who is that?

Me: It’s the dude from Mythbusters!

Friend: Which one?

Me: I don’t know, the flamboyant, quirky one?

Friend: Which one?

Me : The one with the facial hair.

Friend: Which one?

Me: The one that doesn’t wear a beret.

Friend: Oh yeah! That guy.

So, who we later determined to be Adam Savage the Discover Channel’s Mythbusters had made a public appearance at Punkin Chunkin, and sparked a world of buzz among some 40,000 attendees. It made me think about how great the impact can be from the presence of one appropriately placed B-list celebrity. If only 10% of the people had even mentioned Adam to one non-attending friend, then that is 4,000 new people made aware of Punkin Chunkin. I, for example, have told numerous friends of my ridiculous experience, and am blogging about it for anyone to see. If the first step to growth is awareness, then Punkin Chunkin continues to grow exponentially, mostly via word of mouth. Because there are few events like this, I can absolutely see Punkin Chunkin reaching further levels of immense success.

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