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The Corn Palace is a gateway to South Dakota's key tourist destinations. It is a multi-purpose facility located in Mitchell and attracts more than 500,000 visitors each year. Located in eastern South Dakota, Mitchell is a prairie town surrounded by corn fields, and the palace building is decorated with murals made from native corns of South Dakota. The first Mitchell Corn Palace was built in 1892 to illustrate South Dakota's rich fertile soil and attract the attention of immigrant farmers. It was made of wood and was the main attraction of Mitchell's Main Street, while the present—and third—Corn Palace was built in 1921.
The Mitchell Corn Palace has a very distinct appearance, courtesy of intricately designed minarets and Moorish domes, and its unique structure will likely remind you of palaces in czarist Russia. Unlike the original wooden palace structure, the present Corn Palace in South Dakota is built from bricks and steel, and the palace has survived the rough prairie weather for more than 75 years.
One of the key features of Mitchell Corn Palace is its exterior corn murals. The murals are designed on ¾-inch panels of plywood mounted on the palace's exteriors. Locally grown grains and corns are used by artists to transform the exteriors into eye-catching wall art, and more than 200,000 ears of corn are used to decorate the walls of the Corn Palace in South Dakota. A native farmer raises different colored corn with special seeds. He grows a variety of green corns, shades of red, brown and blue corn and Indian corn as well as the standard yellow-eared corn annually.
The interior of the Corn Palace showcases the history of South Dakota. You will find illustrative murals honoring Mount Rushmore, gold miners, Native Americans, and South Dakota's wildlife. These murals surround the walls of the gymnasium, stage, and auditorium. The corn murals are embellished every year with a new theme. Themes such as Space Age (1969), A Salute to Rodeo (1995) and Everyday Heroes (2008) have been illustrated extensively with corn murals during Corn Palace festivals that are celebrated every third week of August.
The 2009 "America's Destination" theme will include selected US destinations such as the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, Kennedy Space Center, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Alamo in San Antonio, the St. Louis Arch, Washington D.C., and the Hoover Dam. The theme will also include three major destinations of South Dakota: the Crazy Horse Monument, Mount Rushmore, and the Corn Palace.
As a multiuse facility, the Corn Palace in South Dakota hosts a wide variety of entertainment programs throughout the year. Events such as dinners, banquets, community fundraisers, concerts, basketball camps and tournaments, art and craft shows, and other events are held to serve the local community and travelers passing through the city. Popular events including the Polka Festival in September and the Stampede Rodeo in July are held every year.
For tourists, Mitchell Corn Palace boasts number of attractions, particularly during the summer months when the palace offers daily tours. Free guides are available between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and you can also wander through the building and view photos of different corn mural designs dating back to 1892, as well as artist displays that surround the palace walls. Souvenirs depicting the grandeur and richness of the palace can be purchased from the gift shop.
The Corn Palace is one of the best odd attractions in South Dakota; while there are number of palaces built for the rich and the famous, there's only one that pays respect to a crop, and that’s why Mitchell is well worth a visit during any trip to South Dakota.
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