This Week’s Headlines
Watermelon Blast aims for accuracy
By SEAN CLOUGHERTY
VIENNA, Md. (Aug. 16, 2016) — When the World Championship Punkin Chunkin was forced to look for other venues a few years ago, organizers looked all over Delmarva, including Dorchester County.
After a two-year hiatus, the huge event centered around firing pumpkins out of cannons and catapults is returning to the Sussex County, Del., farm where it was last held, but out of that search came the Great American Watermelon Blast.
The Watermelon Blast, set for Aug. 27 at Breckenridge Adventures along Route 50, takes off on the fruit-flinging concept of Punkin Chunkin but tweaks it to fit the venue, said Chip Fleming, Breckenridge owner and Dorchester County farmer.
“We’re going to change it up a bit from Punkin Chunkin and not go for distance but for accuracy and get the crowd more involved,” he said.
About 10 of the cannons used for pumpkins will be brought in firing melons at targets 1,000 feet away.
Fleming said attendees will also have the chance to fire a canon themselves in a fundraiser for Relay For Life.
While smashing melons may be the event’s main draw, Fleming said watermelon samples will be available along with several other activities to promote the crop along with food and drink vendors an all of Breckenridge’s agriculture-related activities. Tickets for the event are $20 for attendees older than 12 and only 2,000 tickets will be sold.
Dorchester is a key part of Delmarva’s watermelon growing region and the event comes at the height of the growers’ harvest window. Melon 1, a large packer and shipper on the East Coast has signed on as the event’s main sponsor and will provide the melons for the event.
“We feel it’s going to be a big deal for the watermelon industry,” Fleming.
Based on the success of this year’s event, Fleming said he’s considering expanding it to cover multiple days and opening part of the farm up for camping.
Fleming said the agritourism venue has grown in the nearly ten years he’s been doing corn mazes and other activities and he’s always thinking of ways to grow it more. Becoming the host of a large event like the Watermelon Blast was a good fit for where he wanted to take the business.
“We had been thinking about doing something like that. It would be nice to do venues like this, whether it’s ours or someone else’s,” he said. “We’re looking to keep adding and expanding.”
Frank Payton, president of the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association that holds the Punkin Chunkin said in their search for another location, Dorchester County was “by far, the easiest to work with” and Fleming was very helpful in the search but a suitable site didn’t materialize.
“A lot of effort went into it and I wanted to make sure we maintained that relationship,” Payton said. “We knew we could work together already.”
So when Payton offered up the idea of building an event around watermelons, “I was like, ‘Yeah, there’s nothing like that around here and it sounds like fun,’” Fleming said. “And here we are.”