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Corn Palace Festival, other events welcome visitors

Chet Edinger, a board member of the Palace City Pedalers, uses a bullhorn Saturday outside the Corn Palace to organize riders in the 18th Annual Tour de Corn charity bike ride. The event drew about 305 riders for rides of 100, 62, 45, 32 and 15 miles. (Ross Dolan/Republic)1 / 2
With the horsehair flying from his bow, country music legend Charlie Daniels bears down on his fiddle during his Saturday night concert at the Corn Palace. The music event drew an audience of about 1,500 people, said Corn Palace Manager Mark Schilling. (Ross Dolan/Republic)2 / 2

The Corn Palace Festival week is a wrap.

The midway and its mingled scents of barbecue and kettle corn are gone, and the tour buses are headed to the next gig. But the memories linger.

"It's a wonderful event for Mitchell," said Jacki Miskimins, Mitchell Convention and Visitor's Bureau director. The numbers, while expected to be solid, are still out on how many people the festival drew to Mitchell, but Miskimins said numbers don't tell the whole story.

"Corn Palace Festival is about more than economic impacts. It's a way to get people together. It's a tradition," she said.

About 305 bicycle riders showed at the Corn Palace early Saturday for the 18th Annual Tour De Corn charity bike ride. Sponsored by the Palace City Pedalers, the event encourages ridership and raises cash for bike-oriented projects around Mitchell, and "Lids for Kids," helmet safety program for kids.

"It just seems to get bigger every year," said Pedalers' Vice President Bill Platz, who said ridership went up 10 percent this year, following what appears to be a trend.

There was a 100-mile ride for the hard-core bikers, a 15-mile jaunt popular with families and intermediate distances for the more ambitious.

Palace City Pedalers typically manages to donate about $5,000 a year to bike paths and projects that encourage ridership. The most recent is a 3.3 single-track mountain bike trail west of Lake Mitchell.

Local cycle groups, like the CHS Farmers Alliance crew, took part in the event, as well as riders from many neighboring states. None participated as enthusiastically as the members Team Amnesia from the Omaha, Neb., area whose slogan is, "You don't have to lie if you don't remember what you did." They rode towing their own bicycle trailers, one with music loudspeakers, the other with a cooler filled with "sports drinks."

The ride ended at Hitchcock Park where hungry cyclists scarfed down barbecue beef sandwiches and later collected their "swag bags" -- bags filled with a T-shirt, prizes and other mementoes --donated with the support of Mitchell businesses.

Pedalers' organizer Jacki Edinger credited part of the event's draw to a superior swag bag.

"What I like about this ride is that they accommodate everybody, from 100-mile roadies to families," said Mark Dennis, of Dell Rapids, who accompanied his daughter Stephanie on a 30-mile ride.

Shooters aim for Mitchell

At Cabela's the Powderhorn Ranch Regulators of Mitchell celebrated their ninth anniversary and hosted about 75 western shooters for the South Dakota Cowboy Fast Draw Championships.

The event is a prelude to the National Fast Draw Championships, which will be held in Mitchell next year, said organizer Bonnie "Boulder's Babe" Bullock. She said next year's event will draw about 200 of the quickest guns in the nation. Money from the event will go to college scholarships.

A special event on Friday raised $1,000 for the Mitchell Area Hospice, donated in memory of former Mitchell shooter Ron Royalty.

Bullock, who took sixth place in the women's division, was the highest placing South Dakota woman shooter.

Mark "Snake Shooter" Burnham, of Owatonna, Minn., took top honors in the men's division and Deb "Lightnin'" Stadin of Holyoke, Minn., took the women's division. Pete "Deerslayer" Mattson and his wife, Cat "Connecticut Cat," took second place honors in their respective divisions.

At the Palace

At the Corn Palace Saturday, country music legend Charlie Daniels showed that while his beard is gray he hasn't lost a step musically.

The concert drew an audience of 1,505, said Corn Palace manager Mark Schilling. For concerts, the Corn Palace holds 3,250 people.

Daniels surprised many with a diverse program that highlighted the virtuosity of his band and a mix of tunes that moved from Johnny Cash tribute ("Folsom Prison") to Christian hymns and jazz.

"The band's diversity really impressed me," said C.J. Lapp, of Eureka, who was in town to catch several shows. "They went from blues to country swing and, for a guy of 75, Charlie's voice is still strong."

Schilling said Daniels' music isn't easily categorized. "Some see him as a country star and others see him as a rock star, but he was never truly just one or the other. I don't think anyone would say he's lost anything."

Schilling said Sunday's Happy Together Tour, was the festival's biggest show, drawing an audience of 2,091. The nostalgia-heavy tour, which added the Monkee's Mickey Dolenz and singer Gary Puckett, seems to be growing in popularity each year.