The grandest corn in Mitchell

Have you ever wondered where the world’s only corn palace is located?  Yes, I must admit that such a thought has never entered my mind either, but I can now proudly report that is you are ever fortunate to visit the town of Mitchell, South Dakota, you will experience the deep joy of seeing the world’s one and only Corn Palace.

This mighty building is Mitchell’s major attraction, hosting nearly 500,000 visitors per year.  These thronging hordes come to witness a folk art icon which pays homage to the rolling prairies that make up the American mid west, and which celebrates the abundance of the wild prairie grass that has been tamed to become corn.

The Corn Palace was first established in 1892, right there on Mitchell’s Main Street, and it has been rebuilt twice, so that now it is the grandest Corn Palace in the universe.  In the 1930’s, steps were taken to recapture the artistic decorative features of the building and minarets and kiosks of Moorish design were added so that now one does not know if one is standing on a street in Mitchell or Marrakech.

Some of the most fascinating features of the Corn Palace are the decorative murals that are made entirely of corn, and which are changed each year.  Ear by ear the corn is nailed to the Corn Palace to create a scene. These intricate designs require an average of about 275,000 ears of corn to complete, and are usually inspired by a theme representing some important historic or contemporary aspect of Mitchell.    

These days the Corn Palace is a busy place; hosting conventions, exhibitions, school basketball and shows.  Some of America’s favourite artists have played the Corn Palace over the years, some slightly more than once.

To quote the Mitchell Convention & Visitors Bureau official site: “Today the Corn Palace lives on because it has a story to tell, about a state and a people who have prevailed in a land that writes its own rules about who lives here and what grows here.”

A sentiment with which I wholeheartedly concur.

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