TWIN LAKES - Launching a potato from a large slingshot mounted between fence posts is easy enough - just pull back and let go.
Hitting one of the cardboard targets downrange with the raw spud might be another story.
Amber Jergens, 13, of Auburn, and her brother, Zach Jergens, 10, gave it their best try at the annual PumpkinFest at Twin Lakes Bible Camp Saturday.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Mark Christinsen, of Des Moines, launches a pumpkin down range Saturday morning with the homebuilt pumpkin cannon he made during the annual PumpkinFest at Twin Lakes Bible Camp. The gourds were flying several hundred yards. The event continues from 1 to 5 p.m. today with a variety of family activities.
Zach Jergens said he was connecting with about half of them.
Amber Jergens didn't keep track, but when she did connect the tater broke up in a starchy spray of fragments.
"That was some awesome," Zach Jergens shouted.
His second reaction ?
"Can I eat it?" he asked his mom Angie, a vendor at the event.
"No," she replied. "It's a raw potato."
Of course, that might not be the real reason.
"Are raw potatoes poisonous?" he asked.
While not toxic, they are serving as a substitute for the apples usually sent down range at the event.
Scott Larsen, executive director of Twin Lakes Bible Camp explained why.
He said apples have gotten expensive due to frost and drought.
"Potatoes are the only thing that's gone down in price," he said.
He said he's proud of the new attractions added this year. They include large versions of the games Connect Four, Kerplunk and Jenga built by camp staff. He's also moved the 170 bushel corn pool outside under a picnic shelter and added a tight rope walk, zip line and a bungee jump/trampoline combination.
While this weekend features various artisan crafters, next weekend will feature a quilt display in the round barn on the property. The structure, built sometime in the 1910s was moved from a nearby farm in 1993 and restored.
The pumpkin cannon is also back this year.
Built and operated by Mark Christinsen, of Des Moines, it can send a small pumpkin 300 yards down range on 50 pounds of air pressure. At 120 pounds, it's full capacity, and it can go a bit further.
"Right over the whole camp," he said.
For sealing up the payload, he uses a small plastic bucket.
It works much like the plastic wad in a shotgun shell, he said.
The first gourd launched Saturday survived intact;the second shot developed a small issue.
"Oh man," he said as the charge burst from the barrel. "My bucket broke."
For Jeff Davis, of Omaha, getting to go beyond watching his son Gideon, 4, play the games is a treat.
He enjoyed them too, including the potato slingshot.
"I could probably play that a long time," he said. "It's a great way to enjoy your kids."
Some visitors were a little more hesitant.
Marlys Schoon, of Manson, was one of those.
Was a few minutes on the slingshot to launch a small bucket of spuds downrange going to be part of her day?
"We'll see," she said.
The PumpkinFest continues today from 1 to 5 p.m. Next weekend the hours are Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. On Beggars Night, it opens at 3:30 p.m. The movie "Monsters Inc." will be shown.