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City celebrates new look for Corn Palace

Nearly one year after the Corn Palace domes were raised to the building's roof, the iconic tourist attraction and event center held its grand re-opening Thursday.

Mitchell Mayor Jerry Toomey gives two thumbs up to a small crowd at the Corn Palace grand re-opening on Thursday. (Evan Hendershot/Republic)
Mitchell Mayor Jerry Toomey gives two thumbs up to a small crowd at the Corn Palace grand re-opening on Thursday. (Evan Hendershot/Republic)

Nearly one year after the Corn Palace domes were raised to the building's roof, the iconic tourist attraction and event center held its grand re-opening Thursday.

From the balcony of the Corn Palace, high above the small crowd gathered below him on Main Street, Mitchell Mayor Jerry Toomey gave a prepared speech to his fellow Mitchell residents in dedication of the recently remodeled Corn Palace.

Despite much of the $4.7 million renovation being completed by the winter of 2015, Toomey took some time out of the weekly Downtown Thursdays concert series to recognize the benefits of the renovations for years to come.

"We have now entered into a new era with our current, next-generation Corn Palace that we know will continue for many years into the future," said Toomey, who had not been elected mayor when the city decided to move forward with the renovation.

Last July, under the sweltering summer sun much like Thursday, the Corn Palace's signature domes and turrets were raised to much fanfare in the city. The city of Mitchell also renovated the building's interior, including the installation of an Oscar Howe Art Gallery on the second floor and a revamped lobby area.

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Corn Palace Director Scott Schmidt said Thursday's event was a commemoration of the building's fresh, new look.

"It's more of a celebration of the fact that we've enhanced the iconic building that is the Corn Palace," Schmidt said.

Thursday also served as the official grand opening of the Corn Palace Education Center, a space on the second floor of the Corn Palace aimed to please the building's younger visitors.

The Corn Palace Education Center features interactive and educational displays focused on agriculture that were developed in collaboration between local organizations, fifth-graders from L.B. Williams Elementary School and local businesses who sponsored the new space.

Schmidt said it's new spaces like the education center and Oscar Howe gallery that have generated interest from returning visitors to the Corn Palace.

"It's more of an experience now than it was," Schmidt said. "People used to come here and it was thought of as just a basketball arena, but now visitors come in here and they want to spend more time."

Despite the celebration in honor of the project's completion, one aspect of the renovation still looms.

The city is still considering making adjustments to the lights surrounding the corn murals on the outside of the Palace, lights which will likely cost the city tens of thousands of dollars, according to estimates from a May City Council meeting. Without a lighting upgrade, the existing lights that hardly brighten the murals at night will continue to be used.

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The city is also in the middle of replacing the grasses that surround the exterior walls of the building.

While some work remains, and much of the renovation was completed last year, Toomey appeared happy to celebrate the most recent iteration of the Corn Palace's new look.

"We should be proud of this building's history and how it has contributed to our city's growth and success," Toomey said. "We cannot take lightly the economic impact that this has had on our community over the past 124 years."

Related Topics: CORN PALACE
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