Corn Palace

In 1892 the small community of Mitchell, South Dakota decorated the exterior of their civic center with products of that years’ harvest as a way to celebrate their farming successes.  Almost every year since then they have continued that tradition by putting up new decorations using corn, other grains and native grasses. 

Each summer, the previous year’s murals are removed and replaced with all new murals celebrating that year’s theme.  Themes have ranged from western and life on the farm to patriotic and military scenes. More than a quarter million ears of corn are used to redecorate each year.

Today, the corn palace receives more than 500,000 visitors every year, and this year, one of those visitors was me. Last week while in the area attending a business conference, three of my co-workers and I took the time to visit the corn palace.

First, we looked at the outside of the building and all the murals. 

Workers were removing last year’s scenes and stapling different colored corn ears to prescribed areas to depict this year’s scenes.

Up close, it’s like paint by number, only it’s staple by number. 

The corn is grown specifically for the corn palace in all-natural colors.

Inside, there is a basketball court, gift shop, and pictures along the walls showing how the corn palace has appeared every year since 1892.

Corn Palace – 1908

There are also corn murals on the walls of the basketball court.

Also on display are drawings that were used as templates for previous year’s murals.

It’s pretty amazing to think of all the effort that has gone into keeping the corn palace going the 119 years since it began.

Kudos to the people of Mitchell, South Dakota! May you have many corny years to come.


[ad name=”Google Adsense”]


Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

You may also like...

18 Responses

  1. Teresa says:

    I’ve never been there, but I think it would be fascinating.

  2. Sue, a Florida Farm Girl says:

    In all our travels in that neck of the woods, we never stopped there. Now, I wish I had.

  3. Pam says:

    I was there in July with my DH. It sure is a corny place or is that palace?

  4. Maegan says:

    Considering I was born in South Dakota, it’s kind of amazing I’ve never been to the corn palace (at least not from what I remember, my parents may have taken me there when I was a wee one). It’s such a fascinating place. I never knew there were so many different natural colors of corn.

  5. julie says:

    That is SO amazing! Love to see it in person, one day. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Jenny says:

    What an awesome place! Putting the corn palace on my official bucket list, to visit. Your blog, btw, is absolutely fabulous, and coming from a lifer Kansan, you can take that to the bank. 🙂 I have shared many of your posts with my friends on facebook. You are the real deal, writing your views on the beautiful prairie of the Great Plains, her people and traditions. Keep up the excellent writing, and photography. You see our gorgeous state with your heart.

  7. Doe of Mi. says:

    Wow thanks for that post. I can’t even imagine the work that goes into that, let alone the artistry and imagination. Fantastic.

  8. Alica says:

    How fascinating! I wonder what it looks like by spring…do the squirrels feast on the decorations?!

    • Suzanne says:

      That’s what I wonder too. And the birds too. One of the corn palaces nicknames is the “world’s largest birdfeeder”

  9. Tina says:

    Very cool. I am surprised it isn’t covered with birds. Don’t they eat it? BTW, I thought of you, in this weekend’s “Travel” section of Sundays paper was a huge spread on the Tall Grass Praire reserve in Kansas. Very cool article and a nice set of pictures.

    • Suzanne says:

      Oh wow, missed that one. I’ll see if I can find it online. It’s such a special place. In fact we are headed down there this weekend again.

  10. Glenda says:

    Absolutely fascinating! What took off the other turrets that were shown in the 1908 photo? Wind? Ice?
    All I can say is WOW! Never knew it existed! Glad you got to go!

    • Suzanne says:

      They built a new building in the 20s that didn’t have any turrets, and then after a few years they missed the turrets, so they added them on again.

  11. Laura says:

    The creativity of people never ceases to amaze me!

  12. Jeannelle says:

    Fun to see these photos! I visited there a couple of times many years ago.

  13. Every time I see photos of this place I am more amazed. What an interesting way to celebrate corn!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.