OUR VIEW: Here’s hoping for a strong summer at the Corn PalaceIt’s almost March, and as the days grow longer and temperatures become more moderate, we can’t help but think about the upcoming tourist season. The Corn Palace needs a good year.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
It’s almost March, and as the days grow longer and temperatures become more moderate, we can’t help but think about the upcoming tourist season. The Corn Palace needs a good year. In 2012, the Palace drew 275,941 visitors for the summer season, which is technically defined as April through September. That was a decline of 42,492 visitors, or a 13 percent drop from 2010, when more than 318,000 visited our Main Street icon.
Let’s review last year: Past Daily Republic reports noted that April and May were strong, with visitation slightly higher than usual for those early season months. Visitation fell off the table in June and the turnstiles turned just as slowly in July. There were 30,000 fewer visitors to the Palace last June, compared to June 2010; about 23,000 fewer guests came to the Palace in July 2011 than in July 2010. Although the late-summer months showed improvement, last June and July were just too hard to overcome. What about this year?
We’re optimistic. Last year’s flooding certainly must have been a turnoff for potential guests; some stretches of interstate were closed due to high water, and that likely caused tourists to choose routes around South Dakota.
Too, South Dakota caught a bad break when Minnesota state parks were closed for a month as part of a government shutdown.
Gas prices last year were predicted by some to reach $5 per gallon. That never happened, but the speculation may have stymied some vacation plans.
This year, it appears South Dakota won’t see widespread flooding like last year. Hopefully, Minnesota’s financial situation is better, and we won’t see another government shutdown. And gas prices likely will be higher than they are today, but probably not in the range of $5.
It makes us optimistic that 2012 will be better, and that the Corn Palace’s numbers will see a corresponding rise.