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The Ludlow Vermont Zucchini festival has been sponsoring a 'Zukapult' contest since 2004. This was the second year I brought Onager Jr out to compete in the wilds of Vermont.

You can learn more about Zukapults at the Okemo Valley website.

The field was advertised as being open for setup at 3pm. Sadly, it was raining, and no-one was there to tell us where to go. Therefore I chatted with Gary from the Veggie chucker team at length as we contemplated what would happen to the contest.

Perhaps around 4pm Ed finally showed up and let us know what to do, and where to setup. Fortunately it didn't rain then, nor during the contest except for the lightest drizzle.

The constant threat of rain made it impossible to capture many good pictures, so the offering on this page is a big more meager than my usual web pages.


The Contestants



The competitive lineup. Onager Jr was under the blue tarp in an attempt to prevent water damage, and a repeat of the broken bundle syndrome of last year.

On the left is Veggie Chucker. Or perhaps Veggie Cruncher. Or Veggie muncher. The announcer didn't quite get it right.

On the right is the ENFORCER!

Veggie Chucker has a 10x4 base (well under the 16ft combined requirement) a long arm which is only about 1" wide. A nifty idea that keeps strength and cuts down on wind resistance... or perhaps that's what they had handy.

Powered by a couple weights, and several long black rubber bands, these guys consistently dropped zukes over 230 ft away.

This machine is operated by Gary and Brian LaValley from Connecticut.


The ENFORCER was a nice hanging counterweight trebuchet built that very day. I'm not sure of the capitalization, but the teams always said that as if it were in ALL CAPS.

With a 7'x5' base and an 12' 2x4 arm, they got their first test shots off during competition. The bucket (filled with drywall) hung on a pair of hooks. After most shots, the bucket fell off the hooks. Paul said this was unintentional but expected. I think this is quite clever. The mass bucket falling off the arm would prevent the typical rocking and swinging of most trebuchets after the shot. It may increase the life of the machine... though not of the bucket.

Their first shot went backwards at least 30 feet. Their second zucchini got a bit tangled in the pouch and bludgeoned the machine. Their last shot abandoned the sling (made from an old dish towel) and in spoonapult fashion, launched the zuke 34 ft forward. Huzzah! Sounds a lot like my first large trebuchet.

My advice to you guys: Don't give up! I expect to see you there next year.


Aha! There's my purty little machine with the newly strengthened upper frame, 200ft of new nylon rope and some sparkley new epizygis caps. Oh yea, and my 3 kids are in the picture too (on the right.)

We started with a 180 ft toss. Not bad! We cranked it up some more and got another 180 some odd feet, but this time there was clearly a bit of a tangle in the pouch as the zucchini was mangled.

For my last shot, this old workhorse dropped it out right at the 200 ft marker. Hoo-ya! While I had certainly dropped objects out near that range in the past, I hadn't done so at so little torque. This new bundle has some more potential... on a drier day though.


The Kid-a-pult came out too. Trevor and Owen launched their zuke-halves around 8 feet and took 1st place in the Kiddie division, a new division made up for them.


The Outcome


And by the end of it all, I captured 2nd place... though you probably were able to do the math on that one by now.


The rain caused a low catapult turnout, so the proposed 3 divisions were all combined into one division. Originally there was to be a "Modern" division, for the rubber band catapult, a "Primitive" division for old style design, such as my onager, and a "1st Time Family" division, which had no entry fee, and they only competed for a ribbon in their division. Amazingly there was 1 of each class.

If you were one of the 8 who signed up but didn't show up, I wanna see you there next year!


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Twas' brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe...
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