In 1892, South Dakota was begging for settlers. In order to showcase their magnificently rich soil, local officials commissioned the building of the Corn Palace in the middle of Mitchell, a town that bills itself as the “Corn Capital of the World.”
The Corn Palace has been rebuilt several times since its initial construction, first as part of Mitchell’s unsuccessful 1905 bid to replace Pierre as the state capital, and later to enhance its status as a tourist attraction. The distinctive Russian onion domes and minarets were added in 1937.
Do not be misled: the Corn Palace is built out of concrete, not corn. However, each year, the entire exterior is redecorated in murals made out of corn and various other local grains and grasses. These decorative facades are redesigned annually around a different theme created by local artists. Decorations from years past are displayed inside the building itself.
Today the Corn Palace is used as a sports arena, music venue, and convention center. Each year a half-million humans–and even more squirrels–flock to marvel at the giant, corn-covered citadel.