The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota is a popular tourist destination, visited by over 500,000 people each year. It consists of a building that is decorated with murals and designs made from corn and other grains.
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, with a design by the architectural firm Rapp and Rapp of Chicago. Moorish domes and minarets were added in 1937, giving the Palace the distinct appearance that it has today.
The exterior corn murals are replaced and redesigned each year with a new theme. The designs are created by local artists. From 1948–1971 the artist Oscar Howe designed the panels. Calvin Schultz designed the murals from 1977–2002. Since 2003, the murals have been designed by Cherie Ramsdell.
Besides being a tourist attraction, the Corn Palace also serves the local community as a venue for concerts, sports events, exhibits and other community events. Each year, the Corn Palace is celebrated with a citywide festival, the Corn Palace Festival. Historically it was held at harvest time in September, but recently it has been held at the end of August. Other popular annual events include the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo (in July) and the Corn Palace Polka Festival (in September).
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 Plankinton, South Dakota; and a Bluegrass Palace in Creston, Iowa.