Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

Drought means famous Corn Palace murals will remain the same for another year

MITCHELL, SD – This year’s drought will have an impact one of South Dakota’s most famous tourist attractions.  The outside murals on the Corn Palace visited by over 500,000 people annually in Mitchell will not be changed this year due to lack of usable corn, according to Corn Palace Director Doug Greenway.

“The quantity of corn we need is around 25 to 30 percent of what it available,” said Greenway.  “For example, normally we would use around 15 bins of black corn in a mural.  We have three available. It’s the same with other colors as well. We know we’re not going to be able to do all of the murals on the Corn Palace for 2023.“

He says they will use this year’s corn to make repairs and finish a mural from the current theme, which is “Under The Big Top.”

“Any spot in a current mural where the corn has fallen off – which is normal – will be repaired,” shared Greenway. “We will also remove mural #9 which is a theme from 2021 that couldn’t be replaced last year because of not enough available corn due to the drought and replace it with an image we do have enough corn for.”

Greenway says they had an idea earlier this summer that there may be issues with the corn supply that would be needed for the murals.

“At the end of July, we had a week of strong winds and hot, hot temperatures,” he relates. “Our Corn Palace corn is a lot like seed corn. It’s a shorter day corn than some of the field corn, that is designed to better withstand drought and pest infestations .  Our Corn Palace corn is not.  So it’s at the mercy of the elements.”

What had been planned as this year’s theme, “Famous South Dakotans”  will now be used in 2024.  It will include murals of Billy Mills, Mike Miller, Wild Bill Hickok, Bob Barker, Laura Ingalls Wilder and several others.

The Corn Palace murals require 3,000 bushels of grains and grasses, 2,000 pounds of staples and nails, and well over 275,000 ears of corn, depending on the design of a particular year.

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