Keeping it Corny at the Corn Palace

Last updated Aug 12, 2020 | Published on Aug 12, 2020

When planning our road trip across I-90, Daniel and I mapped out key roadside attractions along the way. While Wall Drug Store was probably our most anticipated tourist destination, the Corn Palace came in a close second. Daniel has fond memories of the Corn Palace from previous road trips and looked forward to sharing this corny masterpiece with me.

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The Corn Palace on a gloomy day. The theme for 2020: South Dakota Home Grown

A Brief History of the Corn Palace

Established in 1892, The World’s Only Corn Palace was designed as a gathering place to celebrate the annual fall festival in Mitchell, South Dakota. The building was decorated with corn and other local grains to “showcase the rich soil of South Dakota and encourage people to settle in the area.” (Source: Wikipedia)

The walls are redecorated every year with murals that reflect a particular theme. The theme this year is “South Dakota Homegrown” – so the murals portray images from around the state. The depictions include Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial, as well as George McGovern (who is apparently from South Dakota) and the Corn Palace itself.

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The Corn Palace as seen from the front

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This year’s Corn Palace features an image of the Crazy Horse Memorial

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Western-themed mural

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Remembering George McGovern’s run for president in 1972

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Yes, that’s an image of the Corn Palace on the Corn Palace. Very meta.

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The Corn Palace’s current building turns 100 years old in the year 2021

Our Visit to the Corn Palace

South Dakota did not have a state-wide mask order in effect during our visit. This made maintaining a reasonable social distance a little tricky at some popular tourist destinations.

That being said, I found social distancing easier to accomplish at the Corn Palace than at Wall Drug. For one thing, the Corn Palace only draws a quarter of visitors per year as compared to Wall Drug. Also, the most interesting murals are located on the outside of the building. You don’t even need to go inside to see some corny goodness.

The inside of the building is an arena that is primarily used for everything from concerts and basketball games to proms and festivals. During our visit, however, it was converted into a giant gift shop. While there are a few corn murals along the interior walls, I was more interested in the corn-themed souvenirs on display.

Since the space inside is large and roomy, I found it fairly easy to maintain a social distance of 6 feet.

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The Corn Palace interior is converted to a gift shop when not in use for events

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Corn Palace corn hole? Yes please!

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One of the murals inside the Corn Palace

Side Note

Despite the gloomy weather, I was really excited about visiting the Corn Palace and absolutely convinced that it would be the highlight of the day.

It wasn’t.

We saw a lot of really neat stuff on Saturday – so much so that I decided to break the day’s shenanigans into three separate blog posts. So stay tuned for more fun roadside attractions from the day’s journey.

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A random giant bull statue in Mitchell, South Dakota. Photo by Daniel.

Corn on the cob and chislic. Chislic is a South Dakota specialty which consists of deep-fried cubes of beef.

Where are we now?

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We are at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota! Photo by Daniel.

Date: August 8, 2020 – Part I
Great American Road Trip Status: Day 34

Starting Location: AmericInn – Mitchell SD
Ending Location: Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption – West Bend, IA
Miles Traveled: 214
Total Trip Mileage: 3583.0

For more details on our Great America (Socially Distanced) Road Trip, see my previous posts:

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Hi, I'm Unicorn!

I am an avid hiker, traveler, and adventurer who is on the mission to explore hiking trails around the world.  I’m also obsessed with National Parks, long-distance trails and other outdoorsy things.

I hope to share this knowledge with you and inspire you to explore new hiking trails too!

6 Comments

  1. NJUrbanForest

    Very cool! I never heard of this place before.

    Reply
    • Unicorn

      I’m glad to be able to introduce you to corny new things!!

      Reply
  2. Gary Pegg

    are the murals made from corn??

    Reply
    • Unicorn

      Yes they are! Here are more details from the Corn Pace web site: ‘The Palace is redecorated each year with naturally colored corn and other grains and native grasses to make it “the agricultural show-place of the world”. We currently use 12 different colors or shades of corn to decorate the Corn Palace: red, brown, black, blue, white, orange, calico, yellow and now we have green corn! ‘

      Reply
  3. Geri Lawhon

    Looks like a cool place to visit while in South Dakota. Thanks

    Reply

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