SlingFest 2016 Preview

Sling High, Sweet Trebuchet

Are you at a loss for ways to properly dispose of your excess pumpkins and/or other gourds?

Are you totally lacking in the medieval siege machinery required to properly infiltrate a Super Target in the event of a zombie apocalypse?

Are you one of those people who cursed their physics textbooks in high school, and couldn’t help but ask, “In the real world, when am I ever, EVER, going to have to use something as ridiculous as physics?”

If you answered yes to one or more of the previous questions, then I invite you to check out the 6th Annual SlingFest.

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A row of participating trebuchets and teams at SlingFest 2015 // photos Jennifer Shertzer

Presented by Plano Magazine and Thelab.ms, SlingFest is Plano’s own “Punkin Chunkin” festival. If you’re not familiar with the art of pumpkin chunking, think of the event as a combination of physics, engineering, medieval warfare and an appreciation of obliterating large, round, autumnal fruit. For the festival, various teams design and construct large trebuchets–a type of catapult which rely solely on the force of gravity–and then use said trebuchets to compete in various events. The catapults are works of both art and engineering. It would be worth the trip just to see them sitting still. But you don’t have to, because they are going to destroy a bunch of pumpkins right in front of you!

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This year’s SlingFest will see teams compete to win in separate Accuracy, Distance, Funky Fling, Crowd Favorite and Builder’s Choice contests. The Funky Fling round invites the contestants to use a favorite random item as a ballistic, such as a glittery disco ball or deceased squid (both actual projectiles from last year’s event). Organizer Tommy Falgout says that he’d love to one day fling some chunks of meat into his Uncle’s Louisiana alligator farm. Unfortunately, they’ve yet to master the cross-state catapult.

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Super-mannequin was one of the entrants in the Funky Fling contest last year

SlingFest will also feature two awesome custom made vehicles: the Canyonero and Speed Racer’s Mach 5 (built by Planoite Dave Hendrickson), as well as craftsmen booths with handmade items including jewelry, soap, art, kitchen accessories, paintings and posters. Gandolfo’s New York Delicatessen and Oh My Kabob! Food Truck will be on site for those that like a little grub with their catapulting, as well as Amazeballz Cake Balls for dessert.

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For the younger crowd, SlingFest will feature a kids area with kid-sized trebuchets that the children can launch themselves, as well as a small potato launcher. The Perot Museum will also be lending out their trebuchet and Tech Truck, and Bricks and Minifigs will be setting up LEGO trebuchet-building kits.

All SlingFest profits go to benefit TheLab.ms, which is a self-proclaimed “online and in-person hub for creative and curious engineers, artists, hackers, makers, crafters, and general tinkerers.” Some contestants are members of TheLab.ms and some are competing from outside of the lab. Regardless, all contestants are passionate about both building their trebuchets and competing for the reward, which is a prize belt that gets passed along from the previous year’s winner to the new champions.

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The prize belt gets passed to a new champion every year // photo courtesy of SlingFest

Catapults, which were once used to fling boulders, barrels, etc., at castles in the middle ages, have seemed to mellow in their old age. Now they’ve moved on to pumpkins, watermelons and mannequins dressed like Superman. We hope you have a mellow time at SlingFest, too.

And for your own public safety, don’t try to recreate your own Kevin Costner/Morgan Freeman moment from “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” (Spoiler: They hop in a catapult and get flung over a castle wall.) You probably wouldn’t mind the Accuracy round if you landed on a really nice mattress, but the Distance round is pretty intimidating. Last year, the winner flung a pumpkin over 500ft.

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Many teams inject their pumpkins with common baking flour to achieve maximum splat effect on impact

Check out slingfest.com for ticket prices and more info about this year’s 6th Annual SlingFest, which will take place on October 30th, 12-3:30pm at Oak Point Park in Plano. This year’s festival is also sponsored by Elite Care ER, Highlands Residential Mortgage, and Nations Roof.

Buy SlingFest tickets >   RSVP to Facebook event >
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