Pay to use our lot — Slumberland changes mind, charges city for Palace Fest usage

People take part in the Corn Palace Festival on Saturday night along North Main Street in Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)

A Main Street furniture store’s decision to charge the city of Mitchell to use its parking lot during the Corn Palace Festival is now a factor the city will consider for next year’s carnival.

According to City Attorney Justin Johnson, the city initially worked out an agreement with Slumberland Furniture prior to the Corn Palace Festival that allowed the city to utilize the lot free of charge.

However, Slumberland Furniture changed course just days before the carnival and requested the city pay to utilize a portion of its parking lot throughout the five-day festival at a fee of $250 per day. The agreement term of use was for seven days, Aug. 19-25, which came out to be a total of $1,750. The revelation of the furniture store’s decision was discussed during Tuesday's Mitchell City Council meeting at City Hall.

With just three days remaining before the festival began Aug. 21 and spanned through Aug. 25, former Corn Palace Director Scott Schmidt signed off on the new written agreement, which included several more stipulations, such as the city providing proper insurance and terms of use.

Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said Slumberland’s decision to change course and charge the city caught everyone by surprise.


“This sent Mr. Johnson scrambling prior to the festival,” Everson said. “This caught us off guard.”

Representatives of Slumberland did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday on this story.

The change — which moved the carnival from its previous location on Main Street between First Avenue and Seventh Avenue north to between Fifth Avenue and Ninth Avenue — required the city to utilize the parking lots of Main Street businesses that were previously not impacted during the carnival years prior.

Moving forward, Johnson anticipates a similar agreement will be in place for next year’s festival, should the city follow through with keeping the carnival at the same section of downtown.

“I would expect if we want to use the Slumberland parking lot next year that it would be a similar agreement to this,” Johnson said during the council meeting.

The parking lot ordeal provoked council member Steve Rice to inquire about the future location of next year’s carnival.

In response, Everson said the city is in the process of reviewing the revenue totals, complaints and feedback from businesses and vendors. Everson emphasized the location switch helped facilitate a roughly $2,000 increase in carnival revenue to the city throughout the five-day festival, which is something that will be factored into the city mulling over the future location.

City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein said Slumberland initially believed the city was going to use only three-quarters of the lot, which is located at 812 N. Rowley St.


“We didn’t end up using that full amount of space, so I don’t want people to assume it will automatically be more expensive if used in future years,” Ellwein said.

In addition, Ellwein said the Corn Palace Entertainment Board will consider Slumberland’s parking lot agreement. The $1,750 fee was paid through the Corn Palace’s expenses, Ellwein said.

“City code says that they are to do the contract for the festival,” Ellwein said of the Corn Palace Entertainment Board. “I’m still working on getting all of the financials ready by the next Corn Palace Entertainment Board meeting.”

People take part in the Corn Palace Festival on Saturday night along North Main Street in Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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