The Corn Palace

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After a wonderful day at the Ingall’s Homestead we had one more stop to make before we stopped for the night in Mitchell, South Dakota at a KOA.

This stop was one recommended by Toby’s father, Rich, years ago after he stopped there on a cross country road trip with Joy. We remember him going on and on about this cool and unusual site in the middle of nowhere, South Dakota. He was so impressed with the ingenuity, creativity and uniqueness of this structure that he made us promise if we were ever passing by  we would stop and take the kids to see the famous Corn Palace of South Dakota.

Well it just so happens we were passing right by the city of Mitchell on our way to 1880 town, our next stop on our journey west, so we detoured downtown.

We happened to arrive in the midst of Mitchell’s annual corn festival. Main Street was closed off and the streets were filled with musicians, vendors and carnival rides.

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But we were there for one thing: The Corn Palace!

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Here is a little history about the Corn Palace as taken from their website:

“The World’s Only Corn Palace is Mitchell’s premier tourist attraction. Some 500,000 tourists come from around the nation each year to see the uniquely designed corn murals. The city’s first Corn Palace was built as a way to prove to the world that South Dakota had a healthy agricultural climate.

A Rich History

Eight years before the turn of the 20th century, in 1892 (when Mitchell, South Dakota was a small, 12-year-old city of 3,000 inhabitants) the World’s Only Corn Palace was established on the city’s Main Street. During it’s over 100 years of existence, it has become known worldwide and now attracts more than a half a million visitors annually. The palace was conceived as a gathering place where city residents and their rural neighbors could enjoy a fall festival with extraordinary stage entertainment – a celebration to climax a crop-growing season and harvest. This tradition continues today with the annual Corn Palace Festival held in late August each year.

By 1905 the success of the Corn Palace had been assured and a new Palace was to be built, but this building soon became too small. In 1919, the decision to build a third Corn Palace was made. This one was to be permanent and more purposeful than its predecessors. The present building was completed in 1921, just in time for the Corn Palace Festivities. That winter Mitchell hosted its first boy’s state basketball tournament. The building was considered to have the finest basketball arena in the upper Midwest area.

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 restoring the appearance of early day Corn Palace.

The Corn Palace Today

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 13 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! A different theme is chosen each year, and murals are designed to reflect that theme. Ear by ear the corn is nailed to the Corn Palace to create a scene. The decorating process usually starts in late May with the removal of the rye and dock. The corn murals are stripped at the end of August and the new ones are completed by the first of October.

Cherie Ramsdell is the current panel designer. The Corn Palace is known around the world as a folk-art wonder on the prairie of South Dakota.”

The theme for 2016 was Rock of Ages,

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and the murals, made of corn and grasses, each depicted a famous Rock and Roll artist.

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The sheer artistry of such large murals, made only of agricultural products, is impressive and worth stopping for, even if just for a few minutes!

That evening we camped at the Mitchell KOA. It was a beautiful campground that offered many kid friendly amenities.

There was a pool, playground, mini golf and these cool trikes that you could rent for $4.00. Tyler decided to use some of his saved money to rent one. He spent the next hour pedaling around the campground making friends and burning off energy.

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While there we made friends with our neighbors. Tyler has become a different child on this trip and is now our social butterfly. He no longer hangs back, a bit nervous with social situations, but rather is the first to walk up to a stranger and introduce himself.  We keep finding him at other people’s campsites introducing himself and making friends. At the campsite next to ours Tyler befriended a couple from Texas, John and Kay, who were traveling with their parents on a cross country road trip. He went over and started visiting with them.

They were very kind to Tyler and we enjoyed getting to know them. They even gave us a jug of milk from home that came from their cow so that the kids could try real milk, straight from the cow.

We enjoyed the milk with dinner last night. The kids all gave it two thumbs us, declaring it sweeter, richer and tastier than store bought milk.

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We are traveling a similar route west so perhaps we will run into our friends again.

We have found, as we have traveled from campsite to campsite, that the fellow campers we have met along the way are some of the nicest people in the world, and the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends have just made the experience all the richer.

Next stop: 1880 Town, South Dakota

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