Competitors load the trebuchet to chuck a pumpkin at the 2011 Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival. This year's festival will be held at the Grand County High School soccer fields. [Photo by Kristin Millis / Moab Sun News]

The 8th annual Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival will be held at the Grand County High School this year.

“It’s a great community event that brings all kinds of people together,” said Youth Garden Project’s executive director Delite Primus. “It’s a great way to celebrate fall in Moab. People come to the festival with a lot of enthusiasm for Halloween and the fall season.”

The festival had been held at the Old Airport, but now it will be held at the the school’s soccer field, a stone’s throw from the Youth Garden Project’s campus on the school grounds.

Primus said they moved the festival to the high school was to make it more accessible.

“I’m excited to see how having it in town will increase access for people even more,” said Kaitlin Harris, Youth Garden Project’s program director.

The Youth Garden Project staff wanted to assure festival goers there will still be flying pumpkins.

Youth and adult teams are now registered for the pumpkin chuckin’ competition. Teams compete for aim, distance, theatrics and sportsmanship.

The only big difference this year is that there will be no air cannons that blast pumpkins long distances.

The world record was set at the 2010 Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival by the Big 10 Inch pneumatic cannon that blasted a pumpkin 5,545 feet. That is more than a mile.

Instead, most entries will be trebuchets and catapults, popular weapons used since the 12th century.

Primus said the Bluff Whippersnappers will return to compete.

“This is their 8th year and maybe their last,” Primus said.

The school children have competed each year, but now they are all seniors in high school.

There will also be Halloween costume contests, stick pony races, pie eating contests, seed spitting contests and weiner dog races.

“Last year we had to do three heats because we had a lot of contestants,” said Kaitlin Harris, Youth Garden Project program coordinator.

Registration for the weiner dog races is free this year. The grand prize is a gift basket filled with $100 worth of dauchshund related products from the Moab BARKery.

“Only dogs registered in the weiner dog race will be able to be at the festival,” Primus said. No dogs are allowed on the school grounds. “They’re willing to make the exception for weiner dogs, so the weiner dog races can continue.”

There are both children and adult competitions for the pie eating and seed spitting contests.

In the pie eating contest, adults eat half a pumpkin pie, children eat a quarter.

“Seed spitting is how far you can hock a seed,” Harris said.

The Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival is the Youth Garden Project’s largest fundraiser of the year. All proceeds go to children’s programming.

“Kids get to wear costumes all day,” Harris said

A costume contest will be held for children who dress up. The first category is for ages zero to seven. The second is age seven to 12.

Kids also get free pony rides. This year the pony rides will be held in the Youth Garden Project’s orchard.

Each entry gets five tickets for booths provided by Youth Garden Project that feature activities like face painting, pumpkin decorating and bean bag toss. There are also additional booths sponsored by local non-profits with free games and activities. Additional tickets for children’s booths are $3 for five, or $5 for ten.

“There is something for everyone at this festival no matter how old you are, whether you have a family or not,” Harris said. “This is a festival for everyone. We hope to see everyone there.”