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Palace visitor numbers down

An aerial view of the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Luke Hagen / Republic)

Mitchell's main tourist attraction is suffering because of the city's under-construction streets.

Corn Palace Director Scott Schmidt said during Tuesday's Corn Palace Entertainment Board meeting that visitor numbers are at 113,760 from May 1 to July 9, down roughly 13,000 visitors from last year's May 1 to July 9 report, which was at 126,004.

Despite the decline in visitor numbers from last year, Schmidt said the Corn Palace has seen an increase in visitors since the Fourth of July in comparison to last year.

Board member Jeff Smith cited the ongoing road construction taking place on Sanborn and Burr Street directly correlate to the decline in visitor numbers.

"In all reality, until we get our so-called 'normal' roadways back, we will see some decline in visitor numbers," Smith said at the meeting, held at Mitchell City Hall. "Sanborn Street construction has got to be really hurting us the most."

While the July 19 substantial completion date of Sanborn Street's road construction is on the horizon, the board expects to see a steady increase in visitor numbers when the construction project wraps up.

Corn Palace Festival

The upcoming Corn Palace Festival will feature several new changes this year, as the Freedom Stage will be eliminated. Instead, the Corn Plaza will host unique events and activities throughout the festival, which runs Aug. 22-26.

The board discussed new changes to improve the upcoming Corn Palace Festival, which include additional vendors, entertainment and activities taking place during the festival.

Schmidt said the Mitchell Recreation Center will be hosting a fitness boot camp, along with Great Life offering kickboxing courses during the festival.

"We're trying to promote more family friendly activities this year involving fitness and wellness," Schmidt said.

Ticket sales for this year's musical entertainment guests playing at the Corn Palace Festival are on steady pace for strong sales numbers.

"Ticket sales for the Roots and Boots Tour and Righteous Brothers concerts have sold roughly 1,200 tickets a piece at the moment, while Midland and Little Texas concerts have sold roughly 700 tickets a piece as well," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said V.I.P and reserved seating options help create urgency to purchase tickets, which he believes has a lot to do with the steady ticket sales for the Righteous Brothers and Roots and Boots concerts. The Roots and Boots Concert will take place on Aug. 25 at the Corn Palace.

Gold Star, the company that hosts and operates the carnival rides during the Corn Palace Festival, will be serving its last year in the contract as hosts for the festival.

Schmidt said he is pleased with Gold Star since he's been serving as Corn Palace Director, and intends to negotiate another contract with the company as hosts for the carnival rides at the Corn Palace Festival.

"I have been very happy with Gold Star throughout each festival we've had them host," Schmidt added.

Sponsorships for the festival are currently at $18,000, and Schmidt requested the board continue to invite more sponsors to get involved.