Commonwealth Journal

Local News

October 25, 2013

Catapult to send pumpkins soaring during fall festival

Somerset — Goliath packs a big punch but the strong-arm catapult is not the legendary Philistine warrior that David in the biblical story slew with a slingshot.

Technically a trebuchet, Goliath will be the star attraction Saturday during the fall festival at Bethel Baptist Church.

Are you still with us? Everybody who knows what a trebuchet is, please raise your hand.

 OK. So Mike Toby, architect of Goliath, told us. A trebuchet is a siege engine used in the Middle Ages. It could fling rocks weighing up to 350 pounds into enemy fortifications, knocking down castle walls, or whatever. The trebuchet appeared in both Christian and Muslim lands around the Mediterranean in the 12th century, and Its use continued into the 15th century, well after the introduction of gunpowder.

Pulaski County’s newly created trebuchet is a giant, but its purposes are peaceful. It’s strictly for entertainment.

Creator of Goliath is a retired Sears executive and now, as Toby laughingly puts it, “I’m a southern gentleman farmer” in the Bull Road area “where I was born and raised.” He is a member of Bethel Baptist Church and made Goliath at the request of pastor Slade Moore.

“He (Moore) told me he wanted a catapult (for the fall festival),” said Toby. “I love to work with wood so I built this.”

“We wanted a biblical name for it so we called it Goliath because it’s so big,” said Moore. This, despite a flip-flop  of facts that has David using the slingshot to slay Goliath with a well-aimed pebble between the giant’s eyes.

The man-made Goliath at Bethel Baptist Church doesn’t fling stones. It throws pumpkins, up to 325 feet, longer than the length of a football field.

The ammunition is ready for Saturday’s fall festival. About 130 pumpkins under a nearby shelter are ready for Goliath to strut his stuff. And there are more, if needed.

“Goliath will fling a pumpkin over that fence down there,” grinned Toby. Down there over that fence is a cow pasture where several cows were grazing contentedly at the time we looked at Goliath. Our guess is the bovines will be a bit jumpy with pumpkins crashing down during the festival Saturday afternoon.

What if a cow doesn’t get out of the way of a flung pumpkin?

“We’ll have hamburgers,” Moore grinned.

 Toby explains that Goliath works by gravity. About 600 pounds in a box-like contrivance, when loosed, provides impetus to whip the 25-foot-tall business end with the pumpkin at an estimated 100 mph. Inertia –- a body in motion continues moving in a straight line and at a constant speed -- flings the pumpkin from Goliath to a undignified splattering in the cow pasture. They will use a power winch on a truck to “load” Goliath by lifting the 600-pound box.

Catapulting pumpkins are just part of the show. “We’ll have games and a chili supper,” said Moore. “The event is for our community ... for everyone. It is to draw interest to our church.”

The fun will start about 4 p.m. Saturday and “ ... go on until everybody leaves,” said Moore.

Bethel Baptist Church is nine miles north of Somerset on Ky. 452 (Bull Road) about a stone’s throw west of Ky. 39. Going north from Somerset on Ky. 39, Bull Road is the first road on the left after passing mile-marker 9.

 

 

 

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