Thinner crowds at Punkin Chunkin competition

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RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA) — Pumpkins flew through the air earlier this month for this year’s World Championship Punkin Chunkin, but numbers were a little thin.

The village said organizers have seen upwards of 30,000 people come out for the event, but this year’s crowds didn’t come close to that. We’ve reached out to organizers for official numbers, but haven’t heard back.

The event was set at the Chanute Air Force Base. Chunkers arrived on Halloween to find the field covered in snow, and the cold and windy weather persisted throughout the weekend. 25 machines competed, down from the usual dozens the event last saw in 2016 in Delaware.

But the village isn’t concerned.

“They took a big chance no us relocating their event,” said Scott Eisenhauer, Rantoul Village Administrator. “When they do that, you have a number of people who are used to easier travel on the east coast.”

The competition moved after it found itself in legal trouble when they were sued after an incident with a machine in 2016. The lawsuit was dropped in early 2019, and that’s when they decided to move to Rantoul.

Punkin Chunkin organizers haven’t decided yet if they’re coming back to the village for next year, but Eisenhauer is optimistic.

“Talking to organizers and participants, I was told how much people enjoyed the location, the amenities around the field, the layout of the field itself,” said Eisenhauer. “They thought the community was very hospitable and very welcoming.”

Eisenhauer also said if they can keep the competition in Rantoul, they can build the event and draw people not only from the east coast, but also the west coast.

Organizers will meet in a few weeks to decide the competition’s future.

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