The “King” lives on in Mitchell, South Dakota. Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson are the headliners for the Corn Palace’s murals. Their likenesses have been created with thousands of corn husks and corn cobs. The Corn Palace annually creates a new design using husks and cobs. “Rock of Ages” will actually be the attraction’s theme for two years, extending its stay from 2015.
Budget concerns about the Corn Palace led to the decision to extend the murals, according to the Mitchell Republic newspaper. The Palace is actually a sports and events arena. A drop in revenue drove the decision, the newspaper reported.
Regardless of the reason, more than 500,000 visitors will have the opportunity to view the beautiful art this year. Nelson’s mural is located along the main street running in front of the Corn Palace. Presley’s is right around the corner.
In addition to the stars, other murals feature generic performers including country and rock musicians. John Travolta’s “Saturday Night Fever” pose is featured among the murals.
The original Corn Palace was built in 1892, as a way to show off the state’s corn harvest. The current building was opened in 1921.
The most prominent mural designer was a South Dakotan. Oscar Howe, a member of the Yankton Sioux tribe, designed the Corn Palace murals for 24 years, beginning with his Indian theme in 1948. He featured South Dakota with several of his murals. His final mural design in 1971 was Mother Goose Rhymes.
During our visit, the Corn Palace’s arena floor was turned into a large gift shop. It was busy. The gift shop has some nice items for sale, including authentic Native American art.
The arena also has some interesting murals dotting the wall. From Native American and white hands shaking to scenes of birds flying and farm houses standing on the prairies, the murals are attractive.
Art isn’t restricted to the exterior and the arena floor. The concourse’s columns look like corn cobs. There is even a tractor on display for photo ops.
Quirkiness abounds in the area around the Corn Palace. A corn in its husk statue smiles as it looks at the attraction.
A tribute to Oscar Howe was designed by Native American artists. “Reconcile with Them” features a bird on the head of a person. It represents the co-existence of humans, animals and societal/physical environments. Marilyn Wounded Head – a Pine Ridge artist – created the sculpture as a tribute to Howe. South Dakotan Randy Higgins assisted with the project.
We enjoyed our visit to the Mitchell Corn Palace, which – as everyone who visits is reminded – is the world’s only Corn Palace.
If you’d like additional information about the Corn Palace, please visit www.cornpalace.com.