Corn Palace enjoys a resurgence

The Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D.

The Daily Republic newspaper of Mitchell recently reported that summer visitation numbers at the Corn Palace are up 11 percent so far over last year (upwards of 200,000 people visit the attraction each summer).

That’s no surprise, given the efforts undertaken by local officials at the city-owned facility. Several changes have been implemented at the "World’s Only" corn-and-grain-covered building to modernize it and give tourists a better experience:

  • In the courtyard directly across the street from the Corn Palace, a statue of the Corn Palace mascot "Cornelius" has been erected. Tourists can pose by the statue as the Corn Palace looms large in the background.
  • The street that runs along the south side of the Corn Palace has been closed to traffic for the summer so that visitors can stand in the street and watch as the corn-and-grain murals on the building’s south side are replaced with new murals for 2010.
  • In the lobby of the Corn Palace, a permanent greeter’s booth has been installed. This new booth is staffed by knowledgeable members of the community who welcome tourists to the Corn Palace and offer information about it and other Mitchell and South Dakota attractions.
  • The City Hall Council Chambers, which adjoin the Corn Palace lobby, have been converted to a theater for the summer. Tourists can enter the theater via a door on the Corn Palace lobby’s north wall. Inside, a new, professionally produced video about the Corn Palace’s history and importance to the community is played on a large projector screen.

Those changes are probably helping to drive the Corn Palace’s visitors numbers higher. So are the newly redesigned Web sites of the Corn Palace and the Mitchell Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the residual effects of Barack Obama’s campaign appearance at the Corn Palace in June 2008. Obama’s visit caused the Corn Palace to be mentioned and pictured in newspapers, television programs and Web sites all over the world.

So if you’re driving across the state and need a break, there’s rarely been a better time to visit the Corn Palace. It’s no Mount Rushmore, but it’s one of the nicer places to stop along the way.

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.

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