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Sep 28

Pumpkin Drop Tradition at Smartt Field Airport

Posted on September 28, 2023 at 4:17 PM by Bryanna Hartmann

One of the lesser-known traditions of the Halloween season in St. Charles County happens every October at the County’s Regional Airport—Smartt Field.

A crowd of onlookers cranes their necks as they hear the hum of an approaching plane. Parents holding small children point to the plane that’s coming, and then to the target plane sitting on the runway.

The passing plane drops a barrage of pumpkins, attempting to carpet bomb the plane on the runway. 

I don’t know why, but everyone seems to enjoy this spectacle.

There are oohs and ahs, and moans and applause.

For some reason we all feel a little better when a ton of pumpkins explode, heaving seeds and pulp every which way.

It’s just one moment of the annual Smartt Field Open House and Pumpkin Drop set for Saturday, Oct. 28.

The event features historic aircraft and old military vehicles on display, with beautiful views of Grafton bluffs and fall colors. It’s a great family event. And young children love seeing planes parked on the ground up close.

Smartt Field is one of St. Charles County’s hidden gems, in Portage Des Sioux. The airport’s history dates back to the 1940s, when it was named Neubeiser Field after its former owner.

The U.S. Navy purchased the grounds for use as a training field during the early years of World War II. It was renamed Smartt Field in honor of Ensign Joseph Gillespie Smartt, who was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He was the first St. Charles County resident to be killed in the conflict.

St. Charles County shared the airport with the City of St. Charles when the federal government deeded the grounds in 1957. In 1976, the City released their portion to the County.

Now managed by St. Charles County Parks & Recreation, today the St. Charles County Regional Airport – Smartt Field provides a unique service to the county as a smaller airport that offers some of the accommodations of a larger airport. It is home to four fixed base operators (FBOs) that provide services to airport customers, and has room to grow with development opportunities for industrial or commercial use.