Category Archives: World’s Only Corn Palace

CP: Corn Palace, or Community Pride?

On December 1, I celebrated the six-month mark in my tenure at the Convention and Visitors Bureau. In the days since, I have been reflecting on the fun I’ve had rediscovering Mitchell from a brand-new perspective; so today, I will close my thoughts on Mitchell’s excellent attractions by writing about – what else? – the Corn Palace!

I have to be honest, when I used to work downtown as a teenager I used to refer to the Corn Palace as the ‘World’s largest bird feeder.’ How embarrassing now! I’ve truly come to recognize that it’s an astonishing structure that embodies so much about who we are as Mithell-ites. To me, the Corn Palace is pride embodied.

People sometimes tell me that Mitchell isn’t proud of the Corn Palace. I disagree! If we weren’t proud of it, why would we spend so much time there? If we didn’t like it, we wouldn’t keep it. But we do keep it. We fight over it, and you only fight for what you believe in.

When the Corn Palace’s founders – business men – first developed the idea to build the structure, it was for an age-old reason: to bring business and residents to town. Mission accomplished, sirs. The Corn Palace certainly supports many businesses in town, but it has also become the heart of our city. This is where we graduate our high school and college students. It’s where  we take our kids to see the circus; where we cheer on our friends and neighbors and sometimes total strangers in athletics. This is where we go to be entertained, either by concerts or indoor rodeos. It’s where to pile in for important community meetings, and it’s where we escape for private events.

The Corn Palace is the icon of our city. And that’s something to be proud of.

ABA Names Corn Palace Festival a Top Event

Mitchell may be seeing more tour buses stopping by the Corn Palace next summer. The American Bus Association has named the Corn Palace Festival one of the top events for group travel in 2013 in their annual “Top 100 Events” publication. The Mitchell Convention and Visitors Bureau, an ABA member, nominated the event.

“This is a great award for a great event, and is a fantastic spotlight for the Corn Palace, the festival, and for Mitchell,” said CVB Director Jacki Miskimins. “Bus travel is a core component of Mitchell tourism, and this award speaks directly to group travel planners. On top of that, the publication listing also mentioned our other Mitchell attractions – money can’t buy that kind of exposure!”

Mark Schilling, Corn Palace Director, is also very pleased. “It’s quite an honor being selected. We’re very proud of the tradition we have with the Corn Palace Festival dating back to 1892.” Schilling added that the 2013 entertainment line-up will be coming soon. “We always offer something for everyone, and for bus groups we can be flexible with group rates to our shows.”

The American Bus Association is a trade organization representing the intercity bus industry. Its annual compendium “Top 100 Events in North America” features the best events for group travel in the United States and Canada. Events are chosen by a panel of member bus and tour operators, and winners are published in a special supplement to Destinations, ABA’s magazine.

“Mitchell is a popular stop for group travel, because we’re so accessible from the Interstate and the Corn Palace is a free attraction. Being named a top event for group travel is a huge honor, and will likely help our group numbers in the years to come,” Miskimins said.

According to CVB records, Mitchell has received over 180 tour buses each year for the past four years. In 2011, there were over 200. “Those numbers are just the buses that schedule ahead and let us know they’re coming; many more show up unannounced, and of course we’re happy to see them.” Miskimins added. “With this award, hopefully we’ll see an increase in our bus traffic next year. The more folks we can get to enjoy Mitchell and the Corn Palace Festival, the better.”

The Mitchell CVB will be representing Mitchell as a group travel destination at the ABA’s annual conference January 5-9, 2013. “We hope to capitalize on this award when we meet travel planners in person. It definitely helps us stand out.”

The 2013 Corn Palace Festival will be held August 21-25. The Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup Arts Festival, held Sept. 28-30 in Custer, SD, is the only other South Dakota event selected for the award.

Corn Palace mentioned in the New York Times!

The New York Times mentioned the Corn Palace in their Book Review section, published August 23, 2012. While reviewing various Atlas apps for electronic media devices, book review production editor J.D. Biersdorfer wrote:

“These features jump around linear time — a Viking long ship and the half-­submerged Titanic are both visible in the North Atlantic — but they aren’t exactly comprehensive. For example, the state of South Dakota bears only two features: Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills and the lesser-known Corn Palace in Mitchell, while Ireland’s sole feature is . . . a cow. Still, the app hits most of the local color and nicely combines elements of history and culture.”

While we’re disappointed that this particular Atlas left out the other great cultural touchstones and attractions in South Dakota – and in Mitchell! – we’re proud to be listed alongside Mt. Rushmore as the two icons of the state. Thank you, New York Times!

“Skinny Mike” and the World’s Only Corn Palace

Is it against blog etiquette to post a link to a video? Well, if it is, oh well. We’re new at blogging so we’re posting the video anyway, because it’s worth sharing!

Before Mike Miller won awards in the NBA, he was drawing the attention of college coaches nationwide as the most highly recruited basketball player in South Dakota history. Watch the entire video featuring Mitchell‘s own, “Skinny Mike” and the World’s Only Corn Palace!

The one and only majestic, uniquely American, folk art icon

When I’ve traveled cross-country, people often ask where we’re from or they get a glimpse of my driver’s license (when checking into a hotel)… When we say we’re from Mitchell, South Dakota, it more often than not is followed up by a statement or question like, “I’ve been there! I went to the Corn Palace with my family,” or “Isn’t that where the Corn Palace is?” Our community’s icon has been marketed for almost 120 years and deserves to be one of the first posts to our new blog:

The World’s Only Corn Palace stands as a majestic, uniquely American, folk art icon on the rolling prairies of South Dakota. The building is famous for the huge, colorful murals on its sides, which are redesigned every year. The first Mitchell Corn Palace was built in 1892, just three years after South Dakota became a state – when the city was just twelve years old. The Corn Palace was built as an economic development tool to recruit farmers to the area by displaying agricultural bounty on the building’s exterior to prove
the fertility of the region’s soil. The first two Corn Palaces were tore down, despite popular belief that they burned down. The Corn Palace that now sits on Main Street is actually the third Corn Palace in Mitchell and was built in 1921.

If the Corn Palace stands for anything, it is a good time. Every harvest season for over 100 years, people have come together for some of the best entertainment in the country. In the beginning there were the marching bands like Sousa, followed through the years by an eclectic mix top quality entertainment. Today, the Corn Palace Festival tradition continues. The Corn Palace has always been about more than just the big
name entertainment. It’s a building that brings thousands of visitors to our community each year to view the unique folk art murals. It’s a building that enhances our lives by providing a gathering place for a wide variety of activities such as high school proms, dances, banquets, sporting events and many, many more. In fact, USA Today has named the Corn Palace as one of the Top 10 places to play High School basketball games and called it the Boston Gardens of the Midwest. It’s a building that brings our community together. The Corn Palace has evolved into a one-of-a-kind, multi-use facility with a charm and heritage unlike any other.

The estimated attendance average for sporting events at the Corn Palace over the past five years is 94,809 people annually. Sporting events include cheerleading events, gymnastics events, basketball games and tournaments, youth wrestling meets, and show choir events. The popularity of the Corn Palace for these sporting events and others is the intimacy that the Corn Palace provides to sporting teams and event spectators. While it is important to increase seating to keep and/or increase the number of sporting events hosted in the Corn Palace in the winter months, it is essential that the
intimacy and integrity of the Corn Palace is maintained.

The designing of the mural is a prestigious honor. It started with Col. Alexander Rohe in 1892. Famed American Indian Oscar Howe, was in charge of designing the panels from 1948 to 1971. Cal Schultz took over the job in 1977 and local college art teacher Cherie Ramsdell has headed up the design since 2003.

This year, when the summer days grow shorter and the crops are nearly ripe, the Corn Palace will again be celebrating. The streets will be filled with people. The stage will
come alive with acts that will enrich the legacy of the Corn Palace. See it for what it really is. A celebration of who we are and what we do, and how we spend the little time we have in this world.