Excitement was abound Thursday afternoon outside of Mitchell’s biggest tourist attraction, as city officials gathered in the Corn Palace Plaza to celebrate its completion.

What was once a widely-traveled street stretching along the Corn Palace has been transforming into a plaza for the past four years. After reaching its completion early last week, city officials and community members helped usher in the finished product of the plaza with Thursday’s ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony.

Standing from the newly constructed stage in the plaza, Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson delivered a presentation, thanking all of the generous donors who helped fund the project.

“Because of all the generous donors and community members, we now have this wonderful stage that we are eager to hold concerts and fun events at next to our very own Corn Palace,” Everson said.

Everson recognized the late Wayne Edinger, and his wife Sue for their large donation to help fund the new stage, honoring him with a plaque that’s hanging on the stage he helped become a reality.

The shade structure and new state-of-the-art stage are among the most notable features that were completed as part of the $521,464 Phase II portion of the project, which was constructed by Puetz Corporation. The stage lighting also coincides with the Corn Palace dome lights, complimenting the neighboring attraction. In addition, the shade structure on the west side of the plaza features a misting system that tourists and guests can use to cool off during hot summer days while gazing at the corn decorated murals.

When the idea of converting a portion of East Sixth Avenue into a plaza was first presented to the community in 2016, it was met with mixed support.

From day one, City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein has been leading the project that began with Phase I in 2016, which primarily entailed the construction of the streetscape on the west side of the plaza, along with a corn cob sculpture. As the project progressed, Ellwein said the community support grew.

“Once phase I was completed, community members had approached the council at that time, requesting to get the whole project finished earlier than 2022. It was great to hear that, because it showed the community support for the plaza,” said Ellwein, who took part in the ribbon cutting event.

According to Ellwein, the project will be funded through the entertainment tax fund, meaning the city won’t rely on sales tax dollars.

Corn Palace Director Doug Greenway is eager to begin utilizing the plaza to its full potential. Hosting a series of concerts this summer is just the beginning of what Greenway has planned for the plaza.

“I’m proud of the plaza and how it all turned out,” Greenway said. “I'm excited for the opportunities it will bring, and I look forward to seeing what some of the things this brings to Mitchell and the Corn Palace.”

With the hardships brought on by COVID-19 over the past few months, Greenway said the completion of the Corn Palace Plaza has given the community a much needed uplifting moment.

To cap off the event, Everson raised the new Corn Palace flag, as it sits next to Old Glory and the state flag, overlooking a plaza that awaits people to enjoy.

“As you all know, this has been a tough year for everyone. But this is certainly a real treat to open this up to the community,” Greenway said. “It is unique timing for this to open up with the social distancing we are doing, and I’m proud that we will be able to safely host concerts outside in the plaza.”