Mural Debate Overshadowed By Growing Corn Palace Deficit

“We're at $800,000 right now as far as a deficit," said Mayor Toomey

Mitchell, S.D.- The fate of the murals on the side of the “World’s Only Corn Palace” in Mitchell is up in the air.

City leaders are debating whether the corn-art should be changed every year, or stay in place for two years.
“I’m definitely in favor of redecorating every single year,” said Corn Palace Director Scott Schmidt.

“Why do we do this every year?” asked Mayor Jerry Toomey, “Maybe it is time we think outside the box.”

The Corn Palace’s Director and Mitchell’s Mayor have differences in opinion on how long the outside art should stay up, but the issues at the World’s Only Corn Palace stem beyond the murals on the outside.

The building is operating in the red.

“We’re at $800,000 right now as far as a deficit,” said Toomey.

The decision was made last year to keep the art in place for two years. A decision Mayor Toomey says was purely financial, to save a year’s worth of decorating costs.

“We spent about 160,000 a year decorating our Corn Palace, and that continues to kind of increase every year.”

But for the appeal of the palace, Director Schmidt says rotating the art is essential.

“Being here, taking pride in the building, you can see the corn fall off. You can see the dilapidation in the corn.”

To settle the differences, and figure out the best way to display the palace and all its glory, a Corn Palace Operational Committee has been assembled. Their goal: to find out what to keep, and what to cut, and how long the murals should stay.

“We’re going to have a tough road ahead of us dissecting this, but I think hopefully in the end we’ll make it a more effective efficient Corn Palace,” said Schmidt.

The committee’s decision on the duration of the murals is expected to come at a later date.

However, this will be the second summer that the current murals have been up, so the redecoration process will begin again this harvest season.