may be a barbeque staple for many Americans, but in Mitchell, South Dakota, the
humble grain is elevated to a piece of art.
The Corn Palace, first built in 1892, is covered
in more than 275,000 cobs of corn, many of which are arranged into murals depicting
themes such as South Dakota history, sport and space exploration. Using 13 natural
colours, ranging from orange to blue to green, the decorators hand-nail each
cob to the palace wall to create the complex mosaics. The vegetable is
specially grown for the murals, with each type planted in different fields to
keep the colours pure and free from cross-breeding.
Each year, a
local committee decides on a new theme for the palace’s murals, which are
constructed between August and October. This year’s theme, “Remember When”, features
scenes of American nostalgia, from drive-in movies to pioneer farm life.
500,000 people visit the palace each year, especially later in the summer as the
re-decoration begins. Within the palace itself, visitors
can watch a video about its 121-year history and see photos of murals from
years past. The venue also hosts events such as proms, basketball tournaments and
the recently held Corn
Palace Festival, featuring music, local vendors and amusement park rides.
Entrance to the
palace is free, and guests can grab their own kernel to take home in the
“corn-cessions” shop, which sells caramel corn cobs and corn necklaces made
from the various shades used on the palace walls.