South Dakota’s Corn Palace

When most people think of South Dakota, it’s the Black Hills, Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore that come to mind. The only corn they notice fills the fields and blends into the state’s great swaths of unoccupied land. But head about 250 miles due east of Badlands and you’ll find corn not only in the fields but covering a palace.

In Mitchell, S.D., corn is king, as nearly 300,000 ears of the stuff are the medium for the murals that cover the world’s only Corn Palace. First built in 1892 as The Corn Belt Exposition, the present building was completed in 1921 and each year its exterior is decorated with murals made entirely of maize. To achieve a dozen different colors, the crop is grown with special seed raised just for the Corn Palace and each color is planted in a separate field to maintain its purity. Free to visitors and open year-round, the Corn Palace is a folk art wonder seen by about 500,000 people each year. Don’t miss the 2012 Corn Palace Festival Aug. 23-26, when food and specialty vendors converge on the palace. This year’s entertainment lineup includes rock band Hinder, country duo Thompson Square and the legendary Charlie Daniels Band. 

For more information, call 605-996-5031 or visit www.cornpalace.org.

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