The Corn Palace, commonly advertised as The World's Only Corn Palace and the Mitchell Corn Palace, is a multi-purpose arena/facility located in Mitchell, South Dakota. The Moorish Revival building is decorated with crop art; the murals and designs covering the building are made from corn and other grains, and a new design is constructed each year. The Corn Palace is a popular tourist destination, visited by between 200,000 and 500,000 people each year.
The Corn Palace serves the community as a venue for concerts, sports events, exhibits and other community events. The two RV Gypsies visited the Corn Palace in 2009 and in 2013, when they saw their second performance by Terry Fator, the singing ventriloquist.
In the late 19th Century, a number of cities on the Great Plains constructed "crop palaces" (also known as "grain palaces") to promote themselves and their products. As the idea succeeded, it spread, including: a Corn Palace in Sioux City, Iowa that was active from 1887-1891; a Corn Palace in Gregory, South Dakota; a Grain Palace in Plankinton, South Dakota; and a Bluegrass Palace in Creston, Iowa.
The original Mitchell Corn Palace (known as "The Corn Belt Exposition") was built in 1892 to showcase the rich soil of South Dakota and encourage people to settle in the area. It was a wooden castle structure on Mitchell's Main Street, built on land donated by Louis Beckwith, a member of the First Corn Palace Committee. In 1904-1905, the city of Mitchell mounted a challenge to the city of Pierre in an unsuccessful attempt to replace it as the state capital of South Dakota. As part of this effort, the Corn Palace was rebuilt in 1905. In 1921, the Corn Palace was rebuilt once again. Russian-style onion domes and Moorish minarets were added in 1937, giving the Palace the distinctive appearance that it has today. It costs $130,000 annually to decorate the Palace.
The exterior corn murals are replaced and redesigned each year with a new theme. The designs are created by local artists. From 1948 to 1971, the artist Oscar Howe designed the panels. Calvin Schultz designed the murals from 1977 to 2002. Since 2003, the murals have been designed by Cherie Ramsdell. No new mural was created in 2006 due to an extreme drought.
The Palace's domes were renovated in 2015 after shaking in strong winds. The new turrets are made of architectural metals.