As we opened the door to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota we could smell the aroma of fresh popcorn drifting from the building. And any corn-covered building with the scent of buttered corn is okay in our book!
Ornately decorated in corn cobs, grains and native grasses, the Corn Palace is an agricultural show place of the veggie loved by so many. Each year thousands of corn cobs in a variety of natural colors are cut in half and nailed right onto the building in extravagant designs. Under the Big Top was the theme during our visit in 2022. On the outside of the palace were larger-than-life murals of elephants, tigers, trapeze artists, a clown, and a ringmaster. The murals inside showcased a historical glimpse of people and animals from the region.
Billed as the World's Only Corn Palace, the quirky structure was first built as a fall festival gathering place in 1892. A new Corn Palace replaced it in 1905, but its popularity quickly outgrew its size. The current structure was completed in 1921 and serves not only as a unique attraction for more than a half-million visitors annually, but also as an important regional basketball arena, auditorium, exhibit hall and community events center. Even with all that added responsibility, the Corn Palace has stayed true to its roots and continues to be host to an annual fall festival celebrating South Dakota's agriculture.
It's all about the corn at the Corn Palace and inside are cabinets with corn-related displays including corn husk dolls and corn-shaped pitchers. There's also an old McCormick-Deering tractor used in the farming of corn. It's hard to walk past the photo cutout board and not feel the need to put your face though the hole so you look like a cornstalk. Yes, we acted like corny cornstalks while some stranger was nice enough to take a picture for us. More interestingly, there are rows of photos showing the Corn Palace during nearly every year of its existence.
The mural designs for the Corn Palace are currently created by digital design and media students from Dakota Wesleyan University and the murals for 2023 have been announced. Next year people from around the world will be able to view corn versions of Famous South Dakotans including Bob Barker, the former host of The Price Is Right television show. So be sure to "COME ON DOWN" to see the Corn Palace! Of course, decorating with a natural product means that the annual schedule for decorating the Corn Palace can be affected by Mother Nature.
It doesn't take long to tour the Corn Palace, but it sure is a good place to stop, stretch and have a bit of fun. The Corn Palace is free to visit and open most days. Visit www.cornpalace.com for operating hours and to learn more about this incredible building located on Main Street in Mitchell, South Dakota. Don't forget to check out the Corn Cam if you visit them online. And, when you get to the Corn Palace, walk out onto the second-floor balcony and wave. Anyone watching the Corn Cam online might certainly wave back.
The Corn Palace has a gift shop across the street that's full of corny trinkets. We left there with a jar of corn cob jelly, a packet of microwave popcorn, a postcard, and a plastic pen shaped like a corn stalk. Yep, that's when you know you've had a corny good time!
The Corn Palace and the gift shop are both pet friendly as long as your pet is leashed. Our pup had as much fun as we did and she was rewarded for her good behavior with a yummy treat by staff. Parking was available in lots near the Corn Palace. We were parked in a lot with several motorhomes and trucks with trailers.
Don't miss a chance to stop and smell the corn if you're near Mitchell, South Dakota and thanks for reading about our visit to the World's Only Corn Palace. Be sure to subscribe to the Ruby's Winding Road email list at the bottom of this page before you leave so you don't miss a blog post. We'll be out wandering some more and will catch you again soon.