A Corn-y Palace

If you’ve heard of Mitchell, South Dakota, you’ve might have heard about its Corn Palace. If you haven’t let us tell you a little story.

The Corn Palace was originally designed as an annual celebration of the harvest. Each year for most of the years since 1892, artists from the Mitchell area (or from SD) have designed murals that are used to create a delicious, but corny facade. The artists create a sort of “paint-by-numbers” which indicates which hybrid of corn to use on which sections of the facing. Typically, the murals are themed for the season and they are truly spectacular.

The first Corn Palace was located in Sioux Falls, SD. When it fell into insolvency, two residents of Mitchell suggested building a Corn Palace of their own to bring tourists to this relatively new, and at the time, struggling farm community. Since then, the corn palace has been redone every year but those that suffered the effects of drought, war or the depression.

When we visited, the Corn Palace still featured the 2010 design. The new design has been chosen, but will not be built until September when all the corn hybrids are ready for harvest.

A visit to the Corn Palace must include the historic video, and if you have a chance, take the complimentary tour that will give you insight into the building, its uses (as one of the country’s most exciting high school basketball arenas) and the permanent display murals that depict a number of key historic and cultural scenes from South Dakota.

Of course, we also purchased some souvenirs to take with us, but we wish we could have been there for their fall festival – a time for celebrating the agriculture industry of the Dakotas.