Businesses lament loss of ‘Punkin Chunkin’

Punkin Chunkin cancelled

CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - Turn away the trebuchets, Clayton won’t need them this year. COVID-19 has cancelled the north country classic, Punkin Chunkin.

In a typical year, Clayton's Frink Park goes from calm in the summer to a medieval battlefield in October.

But this isn't a typical year.

Because of COVID-19, the village's Chamber of Commerce has had to push Punkin Chunkin off to 2021.

The decision doesn't surprise The Scoop owner Mary Zovistoski

“We have thousands of people that come to that event,” she said “So, it is unfortunate, but there’s nothing that we can do about that.”

For Golden Cleat Owner Emilie Cardinaux, the event brings summer business late in the year.

“It’s kind of like having a July Fourth in the middle of October,” Cardinaux said.

Down the street at The Little Book Store, owner Rebecca Kinnie and her husband Michael say this would have been the business's first Punkin Chunkin.

But they weren't banking on the event to give them a boost this year.

“It was disappointing that it’s not going to happen,” she said, “but it’s not something that’s going to derail our plans.”

It's not just Clayton shops that might feel the effects of Punkin Chunkin's cancellation. Local business owners say area food pantries could take a hit, too.

“We’re really going to miss the youth division in Punkin Chunkin,” Zovistoskisaid. “We love to see the excitement in their eyes as they throw a pumpkin in the river, whether it’s 10 feet or 100 feet, but they also have to learn community service through that because they collect food for our local food pantries.”

Zovistoski says the event brings in thousands of pounds of food donations every year.

She says business has been slower this summer, but even without Punkin Chunkin, she's hopeful for a busier-than-usual fall.

“I’m hoping that people will still continue to come to our community in September, October, November,” she said. “It’s still beautiful.”

Along with Punkin Chunkin, the Clayton Chamber of Commerce has also had to cancel the Vintage and Classic Street Meet and the Clayton Celebrates Citizen of the Year Banquet.

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