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2019 Corn Palace murals to honor the military

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For one year, Mitchell’s biggest attraction will serve as a monument to the military.

With two months to spare in 2017 and crews still working on hanging this year’s murals, city officials on Wednesday announced the 2019 Corn Palace murals theme as “A Salute to the Military.”

“Obviously, the military is why we have our freedom, so I can’t think of a better opportunity to celebrate those freedoms, especially in coordination with the USS South Dakota,” Corn Palace Director Scott Schmidt said. “Sometimes we take for granted the reasons we have the freedoms that we do, and it’s because of the people that put their lives on the line. To be able to celebrate that today and with next year’s murals, I thought it was the perfect fit.”

Typically announced later in the year, Schmidt said the mural theme for 2019 was divulged early this year to coincide with the USS South Dakota submarine crew’s visit to South Dakota.

Timely with the Oct. 14 christening of the submarine, whose crew was in attendance for the announcement, the Corn Palace’s outdoor walls will feature a military theme for the first time since 1916.

And the theme was such a “perfect fit,” the Corn Palace Events and Entertainment Board agreed on it almost immediately, Schmidt said, shortening the process to choose and finalize details.

Also on hand for Wednesday’s event were South Dakota Lt. Gov. Matt Michels, Dakota Wesleyan University President Amy Novak and Mitchell Mayor Jerry Toomey.

“It’s a great day for the Corn Palace, it’s a great day for Mitchell and it’s a great day for the state of South Dakota,” Toomey said as he announced the theme.

The designs for each panel have not yet been released, but officials said the Corn Palace’s main panel will feature a depiction of the 337-foot-long USS South Dakota.

Michels commended the Corn Palace and city of Mitchell for “revitalizing” the city’s main attraction and thanked them for highlighting the importance of the nation’s armed forces.

He called the “A Salute to the Military” theme a fitting tribute, because “without the military, people couldn’t live out their dreams,” some of which include playing sports on the hardwood inside the Palace.

The 2019 murals will be the first designed by DWU students in the university’s digital media and design department, headed by Kyle Herges. The real-world experience students of all ages will receive will be unparalleled, Herges said, adding students at an introductory level will design the small panels on the south side of the Palace, while upper-level students will design the largest panels. The process will span the entire school year.

“Just the fact you’re a student in a classroom getting real-world experience, and getting to drive by the Corn Palace and actually see your designs on the side of the Corn Palace for the entire year is a pretty amazing experience for the student as well as the community,” Herges said.