Road Trip Must See Part 01: Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD

I had thirty minutes free before I needed to drive 65 miles from Mitchell, SD to catch a flight home. So I went to the Corn Palace.

It wasn't my first trip.

Back in 1993, I took a road trip with some friends from college. As we drove from Helena, MT, to New York, we zipped across South Dakota, spying signs for the Corn Palace all the way. On the way back, Mark and I had to stop and see what all the excitement was about. And the Corn Palace was just as awesome as I expected. Later that day, we managed a stop at Wall Drug, bookending the state with tourist traps.

The Corn Palace hasn't changed much in the last 15 years. The design is new, but the concept is the same.

The Corn Palace is the local Civic Center in Mitchell, SD. Inside, the building has a basket ball court, stage, plenty of seating, and photos celebrating the history of the Corn Palace.

Outside, it's covered with corn.

Each year, an artists designs and new theme for the Corn Palace and then artisians create the design in corn. That's right. The outside of the building is covered in different kinds of corn. They take ears of corn, split them in half, and nail them to boards. It's a giant paint by numbers puzzle with vegetables instead of water paints.

This year, the design theme celebrates tourism. The three main panels are the Space Needle (which I can see from my window), the Statue of Liberty (which I used to stare at during llunch breaks in Battery Park), and a Space Shuttle launch (which, considering the imminent retirement of the fleet I'm unlikely to see).

So if you're driving across South Dakota, take a few moments, and celebrate Corn. Celebrate small town creativity. Celebrate the part of the American character that drives us to create Corn Palaces.

And celebrate the part of America that drives us to promote them for miles around.

2008-11-14 Mitchell SD (18)

2008-11-14 Mitchell SD (6)

2008-11-14 Mitchell SD (8)

2008-11-14 Mitchell SD Space Shuttle Launch

2008-11-14 Mitchell SD Statue of Liberty

2008-11-14 Mitchell SD Space Needle

2008-11-14 Mitchell SD (10)


Anonymous said...

Made that trip about 8 years ago, and... odd as it may sound... the palace of corn is not to be missed. Wall Drug was deceptively difficult to get in and out of as well, but worth saying you've been to.


Anonymous said...

We were at the Corn Palace about 3 years ago, it's fabulous! Wall Drug was a great memory from my childhood and so I forced my husband to stop there too. We had a lot of fun at both places.

Anonymous said...

When we were there a couple years ago, we stopped in town in the early morning, and they were working on the front of the Palace. We were intending to get some nice pictures but it was tough with the scaffolding in the way. Still, a very interesting facade on the building.

Anonymous said...

that is cool!

TiLT said...

Wow - I would never have guessed it was corn creating the exterior designs...how cool!
I need to get out more :)

angelinabeadalina said...

How cool-- changing to a new design every year! Thanks for sharing the pics. It was fun to see :)