Students cover Punkin Chunkin from all angles

Punkin Chunkin reporting
Students, wearing hard hats at the Punkin Chunkin World Championship, set up cameras in the field. View more photos.


Journalism students in JOUR 215: Multimedia Reporting spent the Fall 2019 semester covering the Punkin Chunkin world championships, through print, audio, and video stories. They were selected to present their work at the 2020 University of Illinois Undergraduate Research Symposium. Below is an excerpt from the students' application, as well as some of the videos and audio stories that they produced. Learn more about this class, taught by Associate Professor Charles “Stretch” Ledford.

"It sounds crazy, but the 2019 Punkin Chunkin World Championship was the ideal learning lab for our Multimedia Journalism class last fall. ... In a nutshell, dozens of people from around the country got together in Rantoul, Illinois, to see who could throw a pumpkin farthest (4,091 feet!). We spent the semester reporting on the Punkin Chunkin phenomenon from scientific, economic, agricultural, and sociological angles. We conducted more than 50 interviews with “punkin chunkers” from Colorado to Texas to Delaware ranging in age from 11 to 70. We researched and reported on the history of Rantoul and the economic impact of events like the Chunk on the community. We traveled to Morton, Illinois, to report on the world’s largest pumpkin processing factory. We incorporated campus voices from several departments to help explain the strangely mesmerizing slice of Americana that is Punkin Chunkin. We built our own small trebuchets, catapults, and air cannons to better understand the methods behind the Chunkin madness.And we learned how to operate camera equipment and report under Illinois winter weather conditions for more than five hours a day during the weekend of the competition. In short, as we researched and produced more than 70 print, audio, and video stories, and one 360º video. To tell the tale of Punkin Chunkin, we learned more than how to practice journalism, we discovered that the learning is in the doing."
—Madelyn Foster and Acacia Hernandez

Watch the overview video

Learn about the history of catapults

Learn about the physics of centrifuge

Audio Stories

Growing a Champion​​​​​​
(Produced by Gretchen Macklin)

Rantoul Village Administrator Predicts Growth of Punkin Chunkin
(Produced by Charrice Jones)

Technology Meets Agriculture
(Produced by Daria Makhneva)

Former Chunker Won’t Travel to Illinois for Competition
(Produced by Emily Stutts)

Chunk Like a Girl
(Produced by Gabby Hajduk)

Chunkin for Education
(Produced by Isaiah Baba)

Spreading Chunkin Fever
(Produced by JJ Kim)

Chunkin Generations
(Produced by Madelyn Foster)

Engineers vs. Farmers
(Produced by Patrick Catezone)