Well - who knew!
As the ignorant foreigner that I am what I envisioned when my friend told me we were going to a Pumpkin Chunkin thing in upstate New York was somehow a contest with people actually and physically - as in with their bare hands - hurling pumpkins across a field. And the winner would get -oh, I don't know, the biggest pumpkin of the lot and the highly coveted Pumpkin Chunker of the Year Award.
Instead I was confronted with this huge contraption that flew the American flag and, incongruously, a pirate flag at the end of its long tube. It's called an air cannon. Ah, yes, of course. And, weirdly, when the pumpkin was hurled into the air at a speed that made it almost invisible to the naked eye, I cheered at the sheer force of that cannon, and at the ridiculousness of it all, with the glee of a child watching fireworks.
Pumpkin Chunkin Air Cannons