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Located in Mitchell, South Dakota, which is also home to a doll museum and a balloon and airship museum, the Corn Palace is a glorified high school gymnasium. The exterior is designed with Kremlin-like onion-shaped spires, and is decorated entirely with various grains, with a different theme each year.

The Corn Palace also sells a variety of Corn Palace related items - there's virtually no souvenir knick-knack you can't find here, and all purchases are placed into biodegradable plastic-like bags made from corn. Admission is always free.

Yes, it is the World’s Only Corn Palace. Do you know why this is? It’s the World’s Only Corn Palace because it is a palace covered in corn. (Also lovingly known as The World’s Largest Bird Feeder.)

Not to fear the palace itself is not made of corn. The structure is reinforced concrete.

The Corn Palace at first:

The Corn Palace, located in Mitchell, South Dakota, was originally known as “The Corn Belt Exposition”. The first building was a 100-foot by 66-foot wooden structure, built in 1892. The palace’s first reason for being was so the early American settlers could prove how fertile the soil of South Dakota was and therefore encourage farmers to move to Mitchell. The second structure was built in 1905. At least one of the first two structures burned down…popcorn?

During the Great Depression the decoration continued. This not only showed the perseverance of South Dakotans but also provided job opportunities.

However, in 1943 the mural was painted on the building because the food was needed for the war effort.

The Corn Palace now:

The current building is actually the third of the Corn Palaces, built in 1921. The murals cover the first five stories of the six-story building. The palace is visited by nearly half a million people yearly.

The palace is used as a souvenir shop, gallery of Corn Palace nostalgia, and sports arena (of course the area is home of Mitchell’s very own basketball team the Kernels.) Each year the exterior of the building is stripped of its thousands of bushels of grains, wild oats, corn and the like and is replaced with a new exterior covering. The materials are not simply randomly placed on the façade, but are part of an ornate mural that is changed each year. The murals are the designs of local artists such as Oscar Howe. The murals depict a significant aspect of life in South Dakota. The multiple varieties of corn and such that are used allow for fine detail (well considering it is corn), such as value.

The mural creation process usually begins in the spring and is completed by the end of the summer. Tarpaper covers the outside of the building. The tarpaper has a drawing of the current year’s mural and a sort of paint-by-number key to make placement of the corn and such manageable for multiple artists. The dried corn is cut in half, so it will lie flat, and trimmed down with a hand ax. The corn is the nailed to the exterior. The cost of this project is on average $100 000, American.(Craklyn says ...due to funding problems, Sioux Falls, SD has been unable to buy paper for a week now; as of 3-12-02.)

The Corn Palace Festival

Held in front of the Corn Palace during the last week of August. The festival is a celebration of the completion of the mural, good harvest, and unveiling of the next year’s mural plan.

The festival is complete with a carnival and entertainment. Some of the entertainment over the years:

  • 1995 – Three Dog Night, Hal Ketchum, Doug Kershaw, Diamond Rio, Brian White, Myron Floren and the Stars of the Lawrence Welk Show, "1964": The Tribute, Deb Weitala, The Cathedrals, Dwain Muller and Orchestra
  • 1996 – U.S. Army Ground Forces Jazz & Dixie Band, Guess Who, Grass Roots, Good Times, Joe Diffie, "1964": The Tribute, Myron Floren and the Stars of the Lawrence Welk Show, Pete George, David Seebach, Deb Weitala, Acappella, Mearl Lake Orchestra
  • 1997 - Musique, Village People, Good Times, BlackHawk, The Teels, Glad, Myron Floren and the Stars of the Lawrence Welk Show, Mearl Lake Orchestra
  • 1998 – Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, "Hondo" the Magician, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Williams & Ree, Martina McBride, Theea Daniels, Myron Floren and Stars of the Lawrence Welk Show, Deb Weitala
  • 1999 - 38 Special and Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Granny and Jim Nabors, Full Choke and Blackhawk (Local Gospel Music and Cornstock 99/area bands)
  • 2000 - Wayne Newton, Kenny Chesney, Gordy Pratt, Gwen Matthews, Jason Zeher and Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys Tribute Acts
  • 2001 - Jessica Andrews and Billy Gilman, Engelbert Humperdinck, Carrot Top, (50's dance put on by Lions and KMIT - Tommy Roe and Hot Rod Chevy Kevy)

There is also a Polka Festival held at the Corn Palace each September.

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