Our great American imagination
CHAPTER 1 | CHAPTER 2 | CHAPTER 3 | CHAPTER 4 | CHAPTER 5 | CHAPTER 6 | CHAPTER 7 | CHAPTER 8 | CHAPTER 9 | CHAPTER 10 | CHAPTER 11 | CHAPTER 12 | CHAPTER 13 | CHAPTER 14 | CHAPTER 15 | CHAPTER 16 | CHAPTER 17 | CHAPTER 18
RICK Well all these unusual buildings are somehow connected to the Wow business. And if your building isn’t in an unusual shape, you can decorate it until it’s a Wow. That’s what a lot of folks do in Mitchell, South Dakota, at the Corn Palace.
BRENDA It brings a lot of tourists, a lot of people are curious. I mean it’s not every day you see corn stapled on a building.
TROY We are the only, the world’s only Corn Palace. Nobody else can say they have a Corn Palace.
ROCKET If that building wasn’t there, why would people stop here?
DEAN You know you get everything from how unusual it is, how unique it is, how interesting it is, as to “Why?”
BRENDA The reason for the Corn Palace to begin with and the reason that somebody had the idea to put all the grains up there is because they were trying to get people to homestead here.
DEAN The developers that were here thought that if they could design a building, decorate it in grains, that people would realize this wasn’t just a big vast wasteland out here, that indeed crops could be grown.
BRENDA And we do different murals on it which always makes it interesting. Every year we change the theme. This year it’s Lewis and Clark.
RICK The designs for 2003-2004 were created by a local artist and teacher Cherie Ramsdell.
CHERIE These are just quick sketches and ideas in actually the order in which they were gonna go on the Corn Palace.
MIKE She draws out the pictures and blows them up. We staple them to the wall, cut them out, and just kind of follow her what-you’d-call a blueprint or paint-by-numbers.
RICK Well, the “paint” is extremely rare corn in various colors, now grown exclusively by Dean Strand on his farm nearby.
DEAN There’s one that’s kind of a small ear, but it’s, it’s one that could be, could be Corn Palace quality and – Oops, no, there’s a white kernel.
BRENDA He makes sure that he gets the right colors growing in the right field, far enough away from each other so they don’t pollinate and make a funny colored corn.
DEAN There’s one looks a little better, yeah, yeah. There. That’s Corn Palace quality. You look at the rows, they’re all nice and straight, plus every kernel is the same color.
MIKE Cut them in half, first in the saw, then we have people cut the ends off so they’re square on the ends with a hatchet. That way they’ll butt up tight like this.
RICK The town holds a Corn Palace Festival every August when part of the excitement is watching the murals going up.
CHERIE It is very exciting. I’m excited to see, especially the one of the keelboat on the end, cause it has the American flag in the background.
MIKE Lot of people ask why we change it every year, and it’s to keep that fresh look and you know if you get a real real bad winter, the birds’ll eat half of it maybe.
BRENDA Everybody refers to it as the world’s largest birdfeeder, and I tend not to say that because I believe it’s there because the people were celebrating the harvest.
TROY I mean it’s a serious thing for some people, but you have to have fun with it. I mean what else can you do with a building you cover in corn every year. You can’t take it way too seriously.
DEAN It’s about as close to being an American one-of-a-kind thing that of anything else in the world.