Have you ever seen a palace made of corn? New twisted steel domes sit atop the Corn Palace, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Mitchell, S.D. The South Dakota tourist attraction is putting the finishing touches on a $4 million renovation project. (AP Photo/Dirk Lammers)
Have you ever seen a palace made of corn?
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The Corn Palace has been steeped in agricultural tradition since 1892, so when the caretakers of one of South Dakota's most popular tourist attractions decided it was due for some maintenance, they also decided to gently nudge it into the 21st century.
 
Gone are the fiberglass green-and-yellow onion domes, replaced by airy steel versions. A new marquee, larger corn murals and a walkout balcony have been added outside. And in perhaps the most modern touch of a $4 million renovation, the palace's night face now features LED lighting that plays dramatically across the building.
 
"It needed a facelift," said Katie Knutson. She is the director of the Mitchell Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It needed something to draw a different crowd."
 
The Corn Palace, which also features an arena to host concerts and high school and college basketball games, draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Knutson and others are hoping the new look will attract a new generation of tourists. And bring back previous visitors interested in seeing what's changed.
 
The redesign hasn't pleased everyone in Mitchell. It is a town of about 15,000.
 
Catina Kost is a Mitchell native who owns a consignment shop on Main Street. She said some people think the "Las-Vegasy" look is too much of a change. Some of the negativity may have come from the months-long delay between the old domes' removal and the new domes going into place, she said.
 
"There are so many people dissing it and being disrespectful about it when you read about it online," said Kost, who said she likes it.
 
"I just try to be supportive," she said. "It's our monument in town."
 
The first Corn Palace was built in 1892. It was where settlers could display the fruits of their harvest. Almost every year since, artists have created colorful new murals on the outside walls using corn of different varieties and color. It's a fall tradition that costs about $150,000 a year. The building's annual makeover begins each May when crews start tearing down the rye and sour dock that surround the murals. Workers dismantle the previous year's corn murals in late August or early September.
 
Local artist Cherie Ramsdell then creates paintings to be enlarged and projected onto full-size black tar paper. That is so her designs can be outlined in a "corn-by-numbers" pattern. A crew of decorators follows her directions on where to nail each half-split cob.
 
Diane Bollinger, a first-time visitor to the Corn Palace, raved about it as she posed for a picture alongside her husband, Allen, and daughter, Lauren. The Bollingers were making a cross-country road trip to Seattle from Charlotte, North Carolina. Their first planned South Dakota stop had been the Badlands but repeated texts from a friend back home convinced the trio to pull off at the Mitchell exit.
 
"I'm so glad we did," Bollinger said. "Have you ever seen anything like this?"
 
Matt Morrison, who moved to town recently from Sioux Falls to become lead pastor of Fusion Church, acknowledged that he doesn't have the attachment to the Corn Palace that a Mitchell native might have, but he said he likes the updated look.
 
"The options for lighting at night definitely give it an element that it didn't have before that I really like," Morrison said.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What makes the new look of the Corn Palace seem like Las Vegas?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (59)
  • kayah-4-bar
    9/17/2015 - 11:27 p.m.

    I think the new look of the Corn Palace makes it seem like Las Vegas because there are new LED lights that make the Corn Palace stand out. I also think because of the new patio, the bigger pictures, everything makes it seem like Las Vegas. I think this article was very good but interesting at the same time

  • lilyr-4-bar
    9/18/2015 - 04:34 a.m.

    The new look of the Corn Palace seems like
    Las Vegas because it became more modernized, like in Las Vegas where everything seems to have the newest technology. In the second paragraph of the article, it states, "And in perhaps the most modern touch of a $4 million renovation, the palace's night face now features LED lighting that plays dramatically across the building." LED lights are very popular in Las Vegas. In my opinion, it was very interesting and surprising for me to find out that it was possible, let an existing thing, for there to be a palace made out of corn. This is because I never thought it possible for such things to exist.

  • camdenc-ver
    9/18/2015 - 02:31 p.m.

    Wait so is it made out of corn or not? I know that there are murals made out of corn, but the title is misleading.

    • carlsonc-rei
      9/22/2015 - 04:07 p.m.

      Yes, the palace is made out of corn. The title is not really misleading because if you went to Mitchell, South Dakota like I did, you would be amazed. Let me tell you something, the people that work there redecorate the palace like about ten times a year with new corn.

  • angelinaf-ver
    9/20/2015 - 06:26 p.m.

    I think this story is very cool. I like the idea of the building and think it would be cool to see, but I wonder how they made it out of corn.

  • andreww1-mcc
    9/21/2015 - 11:56 a.m.

    The new Corn Palace seems like Las Vegas because they added new LED lights that make the Palace bright and pretty. The domes were replaced with airy steel versions. It also seems like the Vegas because they now have all the newest technology.

  • lukes14-mcc
    9/21/2015 - 12:02 p.m.

    The new design of the Corn Palace makes it seem like Las Vegas because it more modern and the lights are similar to the flashing light everywhere in Las Vegas. The Corn Palace also seems like Las Vegas because it has the newest technology and just the feeling of the remodeling taking $4 million makes it seen more modernized.

  • christinaz-mcc
    9/21/2015 - 12:06 p.m.

    I think the new Corn Palace looks like Las Vegas because of the new lights to make them stand out. I also think it is like Las Vegas because of the newest technology.

  • anniem2-mcc
    9/21/2015 - 12:07 p.m.

    The new look of the Corn Palace seems like Las Vegas because the new LED lights make the palace stand out and the fact it's made out of corn makes it unique and different like the buildings in Las Vegas.

  • annac1-mcc
    9/21/2015 - 12:11 p.m.

    The new iron domes and LED lights makes the new look of the Corn Palace seem like Las Vegas. Some of the residents in Mitchell, South Dakota dislike the new remodels because of the Las Vegas feel. Others like the new remodel and the modern touches it has.

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