It’s a one of a kind event and a one of a kind place.

The Corn Palace Festival in Mitchell South Dakota is a celebration of the annual redecoration of what is described as the World’s Only Corn Palace.

The Corn Palace is a multi-purpose arena/facility. Also called the Mitchell Corn Palace, the structure  is a Moorish Revival decorated with crop art; murals and designs covering the building are made from corn and other grains.

It is a popular tourist destination, said to be visited by between 200,000 and 500,000 people each year. 

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

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. Ruddian-style onio domes and Morrish 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 (There was no new mural was created in 2006  due to an extreme drought). The designs are created by local artists. 

The Corn Palace in Mitchell was preceded by several other grain palaces 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 Palnkinton, South Dakota; and a Bluegrass Palace in Creston, Iowa.

The Palace is now in the midst of a renovation after shaking in strong winds. The new turrets are made of  architectural metals.

These days the Corn Palace serves the community as a venue for concerts, sports events, exhibits and other community events., such asthe Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo in July and the Corn Palace Polka Festival in September. It is also home to the Dakota Wesleyan University Tigers and the Mitchell High School Kernels basketball teams.

But the top event is the citywide festival, the Corn Palace Festival, which will take place later this week. Historically it was held at harvest time in September, but recently it has been held at the end of August.

The festival carries on the traditions of bringing in the best names in entertainment to headline the event. Carnival rides, food and specialty vendors, along with the locals bringing in their best produce to be judged.

There’s lots to see and do. But even if there wasn’t, there’s alwasy the magnificant Corn Palace itseld to gaze at.