Wednesday, June 25, 2014

We Were Ear!!

It's all about the corn.  That's right.  This stuff.  It's really King in some places.  Uh, like South Dakota for instance.  It even has its own palace.
The Mitchell Corn Palace, located in Mitchell, South Dakota.  We finally made it.  After begging Ed for years to swing through here, this last trip made it possible.  We weren't in a rush.  It was daytime.  We weren't hauling anything that needed special attention.  It was a weekday.  And we were going right past the exit.  I finally stood in front and too this photo.
If you don't know what the Mitchell Corn Palace is all about, please allow me to fill you in.

This is the biggest tourist attraction in the town of Mitchell, as you might imagine.  And billed as the only corn palace in the world.  It draws more than a half million visitors a year.  Technically, it's an event arena, but it's really more famously known for the corn.

Sadly, it was under construction when we visited (at least it didn't suffer the fate of the Flickertail), but it wasn't closed and the murals were still very visible.  Typically, they start taking down the last year's murals at at the end of May, removing everything by the end of August, and then completing the new ones as soon as they harvest the corn needed, finishing up by the first of October.  It costs $130,000 each year to decorate the palace.

We were told they aren't doing a new design this year because of the construction.  Or, as they call it...the corn-struction.  Here you can see the construction vehicles out front and the "Coming Soon" signs depicting the updated building design.

The redesign will included replacing the onion domes and lighting them, and adding more lighting to the building to enhance the murals, and some other stuff I can't remember.  But it's not going to be cheap.  The renovation is expected to cost $7.2 million dollars.  Holy corn cob!

But it's all for the good of the palace.  And that's what it's really all about, right?  To showcase the corn.    

The first palace was built in 1892 to showcase the fertile soil of the area, encouraging people to settle there.  Gee, seems like a good reason to me.

Go west, young man!  Grow corn.

Each year there's a new theme for the mural designs, chosen from the work of local artists.  Here you can see the 2014 murals still on the side of the building.

It takes over 275,000 ears of corn each year to create the murals.  The ears of corn are sawed in half lengthwise and nailed to the building over what essentially looks like a paint-by-number template, drawn on roofing paper, giving the people who construct the murals and idea of which color goes where.
They use thirteen colors, the most popular color being blue.  The corn is naturally grown using special seed created just for the Corn Palace.  Each color is planted in a separate field to maintain its pure color.  
This guy's calling his friends to tell them to come on by and see him on the side of the building.  He's probably more excited by the phone he's using though, than being a Corn Palace star.  
Also used in the murals are over 3,000 bushels of rye, oat heads, and sour dock.  They are tied in bundles and attached to the building in the same fashion.  Here's a close-up of the turrets from the front of the building.
The grass borders of these two murals are done the same way.
 Another shot of the outhouse.
Inside the building, it's just an auditorium.  It's become quite the place for basketball games too.  Get this - the Mitchell High School basketball team are called the Kernels.  In the auditorium area, they've set up a shopping are they call their Corn-cessions Gift Shop.
We bought a few corn themed products and also watched a video of the corn palace history.
There's a stage (Pat Benatar and Crystal Gayle - not together - are coming in August!), and the murals above the stage and around the perimeter of the room were done by artist Oscar Howe and they are never changed out.  They're only maintained by adding new corn if needed.
I'm thrilled that we were able to visit.  I'm glad the murals were all still visible and hadn't been taken down yet for the season, and I'm thankful the weather was so beautiful, allowing me to get some decent exterior shots.  With all the rain they've been getting, I could have been doing this in a downpour.  
Here's a detail of the guy's sweater from the photo above.  In this picture you can see several of the colors used - red, black, blue, yellow, and even calico.
If you have a chance, visit.  It doesn't take long and you'll be one of the 500,000 visitors who have seen what's known around the world as a "folk art wonder on the prairie of South Dakota".

For more on this unique landmark, and the reason why there was no new design for the Corn Palace in 2006, watch Stephen Colbert's report, A Shucking Disaster - Nightmare at the Corn Palace.  As you would imagine, it's pretty damn funny.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: This Disturb's Me 

2012: Not Sure The Money Will Follow
2011: Trucking Al Fresco
2010: 3000 Miles To Squidland
2009: It Could Be Africa If It Weren’t For The Schlitterhahn
2008: How To Ace A Job Interview
2007: Diver Down
2006: Day Tripping
2005: Nipple Rock


Scott said...

I remember seeing this place on a travel show a few months ago. Glad to hear it was impressive and not too corny (in the joke sense) but was corny in the amount of corn!

M Hanson said...

Oh, CORN! I never stopped because I thought it said...never mind. Damn you, auto correct!

MAE said...

I loved your pictures...I felt like I was there...thank you so much...

Gil said...

Pictures a amazing! Corn never looked so good.