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Corn Palace posts festival profit

Terry Fator performs Aug. 24 at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)

The antics of ventriloquist, impressionist and comedian Terry Fator made for the most popular and most profitable show during the 2013 Corn Palace Festival.

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Fator, an “America’s Got Talent” winner, was paid $75,000 by the city for his performance on the third night of this year’s festival, which was Aug. 21-25. That’s the most paid to any of the festival’s four headline acts.

Ticket sales for the show, which was attended by 2,563 people, brought in $90,340, according to a new report from Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling. That means the show made a profit of $15,340.

Booking Fator was a risk, Schilling said, given the festival has typically relied on musical acts in the past.

“There was definitely something different about the show,” Schilling said. “It was outside our normal realm of concerts.”

The show’s success has bolstered Schilling’s confidence to pursue a wider variety of acts in the future, he said.

“I think as we move forward, we’re definitely going to look at other types of acts to see what could work.”

Dwight Yoakam, a country music performer, was paid $65,000 for his show, which drew 1,825 people and generated $69,300 in ticket sales. That’s a profit of $4,300.

The Happy Together Tour, which featured performers from the 1960s and 1970s, was paid $50,000 for its show, which drew 1,600 people. Ticket sales brought in $54,768, for a profit of $4,768.

Craig Morgan, another country music performer, and special guest Gloriana, were paid $55,000 for their performance, which drew 1,383 people. Ticket sales generated $42,880, for a $12,120 loss.

“We’ve had success with new country acts,” Schilling said. “What was different about this one? It’s hard to say.”

Combined, the festival’s four headline acts cost the city $245,000. The shows drew 7,371 people and ticket sales brought in $257,288, for a profit of $12,288.

“It’s hard to judge everything just on one show,” Schilling said. “That’s why we put the whole big package together.”

The income for the four headline acts, as well as the carnival and concessions from the festival and two pedal-pull events held in September, was $382,825.77, while expenses totaled $373,045.28. That means the events brought in $9,780.49 over expenses.

The pedal-pull events are included on reports compiled by Schilling. Excluding the two pedal-pull events, which were Sept. 2 and Sept. 21 and generated $2,477.49 in profit, the festival turned a profit of $7,303.

It’s the fourth consecutive year the festival turned a profit, following years of disappointing returns for the city. From 2001 to 2009, the festival was profitable only three out of nine times.

“They haven’t been huge dollars the last few years, but we’ve been consistent in what we’ve been able to do,” Schilling said.

Still, Schilling said, the festival is always about more than money.

“It’s nice to be able to show a profit,” he said, “but it’s more about what we’ve provided for the community.”