MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) –Tourists traveling through Mitchell will see more than just the only corn palace in the world this weekend as the 130th Corn Palace Festival kicks off. 

The festival, from Thursday, August 22 through Sunday, August 27, features concerts, amusement rides and vendors. It will also be one of the last chances to see the 2022-23 Corn Palace mural theme, “Under the Big Top,” before work on the 2024 mural begins. 

This year’s festival got off to a hot start with the amusement rides being delayed due to the weather. Corn Palace Director Doug Greenway says the rides should start on time at 5 p.m. for the rest of the festival. 

Most of the performances throughout the weekend are free, but there are two ticketed events that Greenway says the Corn Palace is excited to have performed. Michael Ray and Dylan Marlowe will be performing at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night. Saturday night’s performance is Broadway’s Rock of Ages Concert. This will be the first time the company has toured South Dakota.

Along with watching the concerts, Greenway hopes the thousands of people who attend the festival also look at the history of the Corn Palace and catch a final glimpse of the 2022-23 murals.

“Famous South Dakotans” is the 2024 theme and will feature nine prominent figures from South Dakota history like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Native American artist Oscar Howe, and Billy Mills, the 1964 Olympic runner on nine murals that surround the building. 

The new murals will be the first designs since 2021 as they had to keep the 2022 murals up for an additional year due to a corn shortage. Greenway said that last year, the local farmer who supplies the corn only had 30 percent of what was needed for all nine murals. 

“Last year, we had a drought in our county,” Greenway said. “But this year, we’ve got plentiful corn. We’ve been blessed with moisture in this area so our corn crop is good and we’ll have corn to cover this year.”

Jeff Hanson, the supervisor of decorating and maintenance for the palace, said a crew of 15 started in May by taking down the old corn and grain. They just finished putting up the new sour dock grain that borders the mural in July. Hanson said they will start to take down the actual corn in mid-September and the whole building should be done by Thanksgiving. 

Greenway said the concept of the corn palace started as a way to attract people to the Midwest to build homes and grow crops. He said over 400,000 people come through the Corn Palace every year. 

“They built palaces of grain to say, ‘We can grow crops here so well we can build buildings out of the grain,’” Greenway said. 

The Corn Palace in 1892 and 1927.

The festival, which Greenway says hasn’t missed a year since its start in 1892, was originally held in October as a celebration of the end of the harvest season. Even though it’s been moved up a few months over the decades, they still hold onto their agriculture roots with the pedal push contest and Farmer’s Market.

2023 Mitchell Corn Palace Festival Schedule 

Thursday, August 24

4 p.m.- Rides open

6-9 p.m.- Guilty Pleasure Orchestra

Friday, August 25

11 a.m. – Vendors open

1-7 p.m. – VFW/Legion bingo 

5:30-7 p.m. – Karter Kenis and The Smoking Jacks Band

7:30 p.m. – Michael Ray Concert with Dylan Marlowe opening, tickets available

10-11 p.m. – Karter Kenis and The Smoking Jacks Band

Saturday, August 26

10-12 p.m. – Phil Baker Kids Show 

12 p.m.- Rides open 

12 p.m. – Kids Pedal Pull sign up

1-7 p.m. VFW/Legion bingo

1-4 p.m. – Free Sanctioned Kids Pedal Pull 

5-7 p.m. – Swedish Meatball concert

7:30 pm – Broadway’s Rock of Ages Concert, tickets available

9:30-1 p.m. – Swedish Meatball

Sunday, August 27

12 p.m.- Rides open

12-2 p.m. – Phil Baker Kids Show

1-5 p.m. – DB Creative Force face painting 

1 -5 p.m. – VFW/Legion bingo 

2-2:30 p.m. – Mitchell Children’s Choir 

2:30- 4 p.m. – Billy Lurken Live 

5 p.m. – 2023 Corn Palace Festival ends