Mitchell officials seek assurance on new Corn Palace domes

Farm Forum

MITCHELL (AP) — City officials in Mitchell are seeking assurance that new domes for the Corn Palace tourist attraction can withstand South Dakota’s weather.

The domes are part of a $7.2 million makeover of the building that’s billed as the world’s only palace dedicated to the grain. About 200,000 tourists annually visit the building decorated inside and outside with murals made from about 275,000 ears of corn of various sizes and colors.

The makeover was to be finished last month but completion has been pushed back a couple of months, The Daily Republic newspaper reported. One of the reasons is the new domes, which were seen visibly shaking during recent strong winds.

“It’s not that the city didn’t consider wind and snow loads, it’s just that we need to ensure that the end product is meeting the specifications that were stated in the original bid specs,” City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein told the City Council on Monday.

“We don’t want those domes to be installed until we have verification from both (the contractor’s) engineering firm and ours that they’re going to do what they say they’re going to do,” she said.

Mayor Ken Tracy said he hopes the verification can be done in the next week.

“Until we, as the owner, are completely satisfied that all of the specifications have been met, we’re not going to allow those domes to be installed,” he said.

The upgrade to the Corn Palace includes the new domes as well as new lighting, larger murals, exhibit space, a theater and a walk-out balcony above the marquee. Work began in June 2014. Floor, sign and mural work still need to be finished, extending construction into mid-summer.