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Corn Palace seeking input for future improvements

Corn Palace Director Scott Schmidt is looking to identify common goals for improving Mitchell's biggest tourist attraction by embracing the Future IQ community vision project.

Schmidt provided the Corn Palace Entertainment Board members a survey designed to gather input on suggestions for the Corn Palace during Tuesday's board meeting at City Hall.

"I'm hoping this board is very honest about the suggestions and improvements you would like to see at the Corn Palace," Schmidt said. "We could continue to have the same conversations about seating and standing, but we need to take a deep look at what we're doing to start selling out concerts and events."

Schmidt provided examples of future improvements that could boost tourism, such as implementing new technology advancements and creating new activities during the summer like horse carriage rides.

"In the three years I've been here, we've never sold out a concert," Schmidt said. "I think it's time to take a deep look into what we can do to improve this attraction in the next 10 to 15 years."

Schmidt's goal is to extend the survey to the Mitchell City Council and the whole community in hopes of a more inclusive response.

The ongoing Sanborn Boulevard construction project is taking its toll on Corn Palace visitor numbers, which have seen a slight decrease this year in comparison to last year. According to Schmidt, there were 415,000 visitors from May 2017 to April 2018, while May 2018 through March 2019 saw a total of 371,744 visitors.

"With the Corn Palace Cup coming up in a few weeks, we're hoping that event will help those numbers," Schmidt said of the international soccer match scheduled for April 14.

Schmidt said the first international soccer bout held at the Corn Palace has already garnered 600 tickets sales, and he anticipates a strong showing of attendance that will feature Brazil's national arena soccer club facing off against the U.S. national arena soccer team.

On the entertainment front, Schmidt updated the board on all three of the upcoming entertainment events, providing ticket sales numbers for each of the concerts.

With the new Cornstalk Jam concert scheduled for July 6, along with the upcoming Williams and Ree concert and Corn Palace Festival, there will be plenty of entertainment options in Mitchell throughout the summer.

The Corn Palace Festival kicks off Aug. 23 with country music artist Clint Black, who has sold 600 tickets, while the Aug. 24 Trace Adkins concert has garnered 800 ticket sales. The jazz and rock music group Blood, Sweat & Tears with The Box Tops will be the final concert of the festival, which has 400 tickets sold. Cornstalk Jam ticket sales will go on sale May 3.

"These are pretty good sales numbers at this point, and we will pick up our marketing strategies in the next few months," Schmidt said.

In other actions, the board elected Ron Koupal as the Corn Palace events and entertainment president and Brad Zimmerman as the vice president. Board member Susan Kiepke was also elected as the secretary. The elected officials will serve a three-year term.

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