Tom & Charlene's Excellent Adventures travel blog

Corn Palace in 2015

Renovated in 2017

The outside murals

Ready for a winter scene

Inside the auditorium

Sioux Falls

Our safety gear for the Winnebago tour

August 28 - 29, 2017

We aren’t in the mountains anymore - 71⁰ to start the day! Quite a change from the 40s & 50s we were accustomed to most mornings.

First stop of the day was the Mitchell Corn Palace. In the late 1800’s there were many Corn Palaces/Exhibition Halls in small towns throughout the area. Festivals were held to celebrate the harvest. Most were temporary buildings. The Mitchell building is the oldest continuous permanent Corn Palace. In fact it is the only Corn Palace in the world and dates to 1892. The entrance and concession stand are on the first floor. This section also contains pictures and a narrative giving the history of the Corn Palace. On the upper floor a long hallway is hung with pictures of the Corn Palace from the 1892 to present day. A picture display of previous murals from concept to finish is also on this floor.

A large auditorium with a stage, basketball court and theater seating fills the back of the building. The rental of this area for basketball, volleyball, conventions, graduations and concerts supports the upkeep of the arena and the murals. The murals are the main attraction.

We were browsing the photo history as a guided tour began. We tried to appear to not be listening, it didn’t work. Several on the tour kindly invited us to join them. I think the guide realized we weren’t part of the bus tour, they were all African-American from Georgia and North Carolina. I think our lack of a southern accent gave us away.

The exterior murals are changed twice a year. We spoke with the head of maintenance. The decorating process usually starts in late May with the removal of the rye and dock. A different theme is chosen each year, and murals are designed to reflect that theme. After the old picture is stripped away the area is covered with tar paper. The mural outline is transferred to the paper. Ear by ear the corn is nailed to the Corn Palace to create a scene. The Palace is decorated with naturally colored corn and other grains and native grasses to make it “the agricultural show-place of the world”. They currently use 13 different colors or shades of corn to decorate the Corn Palace: red, brown, black, blue, white, orange, calico, yellow and now even have green corn! The corn murals are stripped again after the corn festival at the end of August and the new winter themes are completed by the first of October. After the tour we visited the gift shop. If you were looking for an item that referred to corn or South Dakota you could find it here!

It was then on to Cabela’s. This Cabela’s has 4 large fish tanks, a bubbling brook and plenty of wildlife on display. Always an interesting stop.

Heading east we entered Sioux Falls. Our noses told us we were near the Morrell/Smithfield processing plant before we saw it – YUCK! The Sioux Falls Park is very near the packing house. Thankful the wind was blowing the opposite direction. We counted at least 10 small falls making up the beautiful multi-layered falls. The Park has very nice green space with lots of trees and picnic areas. Adjacent to the Park is the Agricultural Center. This 2-story building is home to a museum chronicling the importance of the stockyards to the development of the city of Sioux Falls.

Entering Minnesota we were back to flat land. Many wind farms were spotted along the Interstate. We found harvested wheat fields and very healthy fields of corn, soybeans and hay. As darkness fell we could pick out the wind turbines by looking for the flashing red lights.

Pulled into the Walmart in Blue Earth, MN. Don’t you just love that name?

Tuesday morning we left the Interstate traveling to Forest City, IA. The school buses were out this morning, reminding us that it’s almost September. Crossing into Iowa the road became less “washboard” rough. Searching for a car wash the GPS brought us to Buffalo Center, IA where we found the Bison Car Wash – you could almost hear our trusty RV sigh as the dirt and grime was washed away. Buffalo Center was a spot in the country with no other towns within 10 miles. The “town” consisted of the car wash, a feed mill and a Casey’s gas station.

At Forest City we toured the Winnebago RV plant. We were impressed by the number of Minnie Winnies we have seen on this trip. Many seen in Utah and Colorado were rentals. We enjoyed the tour. Each unit is sold before it starts on the assembly line and is customized according to the customer’s choices.

Stopped at the Machine Shed Restaurant near Des Moines for dinner. We ate here in 2015 on our way home from the College World Series. We enjoyed it so much we made a point to stop again. Overnighted at the Altoona, IA Walmart.

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