May-July attendance numbers at Corn Palace comparable to 2005
Attendance numbers at the Corn Palace are holding steady so far this summer, according to Mark Schilling, director of the Corn Palace. From May to July, the Corn Palace had 125,415 visitors. During the same period last year, about 124,849 people ...
Attendance numbers at the Corn Palace are holding steady so far this summer, according to Mark Schilling, director of the Corn Palace.
From May to July, the Corn Palace had 125,415 visitors. During the same period last year, about 124,849 people passed through the turnstiles, Schilling said.
"Numbers fluctuate plus or minus a thousand," he said. "A bad day here or there can change those numbers."
He said that numbers so far this year are "very comparable to where we were last year."
Last fall, the Corn Palace reported approximately 250,000 visitors for 2005, down 5.3 percent from 2004, when 264,000 tourists visited. Souvenir sales at the chamber-run gift shop last year went up 2 percent, despite the decline in visitor numbers, giving the city more than $128,000 from the total $801,000 in sales. Sixteen percent of the sales revenue at the gift shop are used as commission and come back to the city, Schilling said.
Several new ideas were proposed to help bring in more visitors, many of which centered on creating hands-on daily events, like a video theater presentation or arts and crafts that deal with corn. None of those ideas has been implemented so far, Schilling said, since the development will go more smoothly if both the city and the chamber are involved."It doesn't necessarily need the approval of both but we're trying to have both groups work together on it," he said. "Funding for (new projects) will be discussed for the 2007 budget."
"There has been talk of some more 'edutainment' or other things to do," he said. "I know both the city and the chamber are looking at some things to put in place. You want to make sure if you're bringing something in, it will be something that will better the experience. It has to be something we do carefully."
The Prehistoric Indian Village, also located in Mitchell, saw an increase in attendance from June 2005 to June of this year, according to tour guide Dennis Scott. During June, the Prehistoric Indian Village had 2,000 visitors. In June of 2005, 1,300 visited the attraction.
Scott said the rise may have been because of an increase in student tours.
Attendance has been steady at popular western South Dakota attractions.
"All in all, we would be pretty even with last year," said Craig Pugsley, visitor services coordinator at Custer State Park. "January through May, we were up 4 percent in traffic."
The Fourth of July person count at Custer State Park was 61,620 in the five days around the holiday. In 2005, 62,378 people entered the park during that time.
"The Fourth of July, the last two years, we've had excellent weather and people seem to be out and about traveling," Pugsley said. "It seems like they want to enjoy their leisure time and they haven't let the price of gas dampen their enthusiasm for their vacation."
Attendance numbers are also slightly up at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, according to Chief Ranger Mike Pflaum.
"Through the end of June for the year -- since January 1st -- our numbers are close to last year's," he said. "We were up by 1.68 percent over last year, which really is about 15,000 total visitors."
From Jan. 1 through June 30, Mount Rushmore had 914,929 total visitors. Last year during that same period, the memorial had total 899,822 visitors. While the memorial grounds could use more rain, Pflaum said no one factor seems to have caused numbers to rise slightly.
"I think it's hard to attribute any one thing as a reason for holding steady or making a small gain," he said. "So far, it looks like business as usual, but who knows what the next two months will bring."