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Drought Impacts Murals At Corn Palace

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This summer’s drought has been one for the record books, affecting every single one of us in some way or another. Now, it’s making its mark on our state’s tourism industry, giving people an opportunity to see its effects in a unique way.

This is a special time of the year for those familiar with the Mitchell Corn Palace, as the murals of last year's corn crop are replaced with the murals of this year's harvest.

Typically, the projects are completed by late October, but thanks to this summer's notorious drought; artists are being forced to make a few changes that have really knocked things off schedule.

Corn Palace Director, Mark Schilling says, “The cobs themselves are drier. The kernels are drier. It’s requiring us to cut them, soak them in water, so that when we saw the ears in half; the kernels don’t just shell right off. So, it’s taking a little bit longer than we would like.”

Progress is being made, however. This year's theme, "We Celebrate", can already be picked out just by looking around at the newer murals--each one dedicated to the different holidays observed in our country.

Unfortunately, this summer's lack of moisture has also compromised the color in the masterpieces.

“We lost four colors completely. Those fields, there was not enough colors to harvest in those fields to have good ears because our ears need to be eight to ten inches in length and have solid colors with that; so we lost our blue color. We lost one of our brown shades, our orange, and a calico,” says Schilling.

So the color scheme had to be adjusted just a bit, but that's not stopping this tradition that has been going on for years in Mitchell.

“We really wanted to redecorate this year because given the drought, it’s kind of still showing, ‘Hey! We still have some corn. We’re going to go and redecorate the corn palace,” says Schilling.

Even though this year’s murals will be a little different than years past, tourists have the opportunity to see how the historic drought of 2012 has had an impact on the corn palace.  

Four of the murals have been completed so far, and there are still eight left to go as long as there is enough corn available to complete them.

Right now, the board can’t give an exact date that the murals will be completed.
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