There's something inherently hilarious about watching grown people (men, mostly) shoot pumpkins out of cannons. But that's what they do at the annual Punkin' Chuckin' Contest outside Peoria in Morton, scheduled this year for Oct. 16-17.
The cannon, the Aludium Q36 Pumpkin Modulator, is just one of the contraptions that will be tossing pumpkins. There also will be plenty of catapults and trebuchets (catapults use springs to increase the thrust while trebuchets use only counterweights). After each official chuck, spotters on ATVs zoom across the field to mark the distance and determine whether any chucker breaks the elusive one-mile barrier.
Organizers also host a pumpkin hand toss contest and set up a car in the field that gets pumpkinated by the Q36.
The event is free, but parking is $5 per car and there are a host of pumpkin delicacies to buy-ice cream, pie, chili (which was surprisingly good), pumpkin souvenirs and more. We spent about $30 the entire day. Bring lawn chairs, coats, hats and mittens. The wind really whips across the harvested farmland.
Make a weekend of Punkin' Chuckin' and spend the night in a converted caboose, silo or stable at the nearby Wildlife Prairie State Park in Hanna City. Prices for two people range from $80 per night for the caboose to $125 per night for a cabin by the lake on weekends. Each additional person age 4 and up is $10 per night. Room rental includes parking, two days in the park, fishing and other amenities.
In late October, the park becomes the "Wildlife Scary Park." Scheduled for Oct. 22-24 and 29-31 this year, it includes a ride on the mini-railroad through the park.
If you make it into Peoria, stop at the Smithsonian-affiliated Lakeview Museum of Arts & Sciences. It has an impressive array of exhibits at downstate-affordable prices.
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
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