A haven for the harvest
Following the 1921 opening of Mitchell, S.D.’s Corn Palace, city officials promoted the unique building not only as an exhibition site for grain and corn, but also a facility for community use. Then-mayor E.V. Bobb claimed the facility was “one of the finest municipal auditoriums in any small city in the United States,” according to the November 1922 issue of The American City. With a 4,500-seat capacity, the brick building included a stage, dance floor, balconies and areas for booths. In its early years, the facility hosted many events and famous figures, including John Phillip Sousa’s band and the first Mitchell Automobile Show, which drew the facility’s largest crowd at that time. Decorative panels of corn lined the building’s entire exterior.
Eighty-six years later, the Corn Palace’s appearance has been changed with the installation of domes and minarets, however, 12 elaborate murals constructed of corn, grain and other materials still cover the exterior. Each year, the murals are replaced during the annual Corn Palace Festival, a harvest celebration. In August 2005, the palace adopted a “Salute to Rodeo” theme to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the city’s rodeo, and featured images of bull riding, team roping and cowboys. Because of a drought that resulted in an insufficient amount of colored corn for new murals, the 2006 installation was delayed until August 2007. The palace also hosts dances, exhibits and high school and college sports tournaments, attracting nearly 500,000 visitors each year.