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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Where are we now?
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: