No new corn for the palaceby Cara Hetland, Minnesota Public Radio
This summer's drought and heatwave have taken a toll on more than farmers' fields. For the first time ever, one of South Dakota's biggest tourist attractions won't change its look because there isn't enough corn to go around. The world's only Corn Palace is being hit hard by the drought.
Sioux Falls, S.D. — You can't drive down South Dakota's interstate highways without seeing billboards promoting the Corn Palace -- The World's Only Corn Palace, that is. Each year, half a million people take the hint and pull off the highways to look at the boxy building in downtown Mitchell.
Many people return every year to see how the outside has changed, because each year, there's a different look and theme.
The Corn Palace is decorated with 13 different colors of corn that is stapled on to the building to make a design.
Mark Schilling, Corn Palace director, says it takes several hundred acres of colored corn and other grains each year to make the 12 murals and other designs.
Schilling says after inspecting crops this year, there just isn't enough colored corn to make the Corn Palace better than it is right now.
"We found that we had a lot of the mid-tones, the medium reds and maybe dark reds, and the browns that we had enough of. But it was our whites, our blues, our blacks and our orange and our calico -- the very dark and the very light -- that we were going to run short of," says Schilling.
This isn't the first dry year in the Corn Palace's 114-year history. But in other dry years there was usually enough corn to replace half of the murals. Schilling says they just couldn't incorporate a new theme with the Rodeo theme of cowboys and horses already on the building.
"The theme we were planning to do was everyday heroes. That's utilizing the people you see every day. Your school teacher, your nurse, your doctor, firefighters," says Schilling.
Schilling says there have been years when the murals were painted, because grain and corn production was needed during World Wars I and II.
The current murals are framed in milo and that'll be replaced this year. The date on the building will get an update. Schilling says it's likely that next year, the Corn Palace will get its facelift.
- All Things Considered, 09/12/2006, 5:53 p.m.