Just because I happened to be in that general area of the Midwest the other day, I figured it would be fun to make a quick stop at the Corn Palace. I knew that the venue would not be in its prime viewing state, but I don’t get to Mitchell, South Dakota very often.
The Mitchell Corn Palace is the only one remaining out of three or four other venues. Another one in Gregory, South Dakota, one in Sioux City, Iowa were corn palaces. One in Plankenton, South Dakota was the Grain Palace. There was a Bluegrass Palace in Creston, Iowa at one time. I think all of those went by the wayside about a century ago. Hence, the one in Mitchell is the only one in the world. Of course there’s the Cow Palace in San Francisco; which seems totally out of place. That’s another story for another blog post.
The original Corn Palace was built in 1904. It was torn down and rebuilt in 1905 as a more substantial building. That was part of a challenge to the capitol city in Pierre. Mitchell wanted the state capitol to be relocated from Pierre. The new Corn Palace was supposed to be an inducement for the move. The change of capitol city never happened though.
The present day Corn Palace building was constructed in 1921. The addition of Moorish inspired onion domes and minarets were added in 1937. Now, it looks like a surreal version of something out of The Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.
The building is home to music festivals, community events, a regional rodeo, the yearly corn festival and it’s where the Mitchell High School Kernels play their home basketball games. Yes, you read it correctly, Kernels.
I’ve been to the place in late August, just as the murals or corn-o-ramas are being finished in time for the annual Corn Festival in late summertime. More than $130,000 worth of grain goes into the spectacle each year. The pictures are different each time. Often a patriotic or americana type theme is displayed.
I hope to get back to Mitchell later this year so I can take some proper photos and maybe time my visit for the corn festival and tourist season. The corny art is really amazing and impressive to see.
The Blue Jay of Happiness could get really fat by munching on the murals at the Corn Palace.