Sunday, September 9, 2012

South Dakota ! Sioux Falls, Mitchell, and The Corn Palace of 2012

Today we visited both Sioux City, Iowa and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  We've miscalled them both today numerous times. We crossed into South Dakota before noon.  It was not a long drive north on Rt 29 to Sioux Falls. As a matter of fact, we didn't drive 200 miles all day.

There seems to be a lot of road construction in downtown Sioux Falls, but we managed to find a parking spot.  I had a city map in my hand, but probably had it upside down, so we walked several blocks away from where we wanted to go.  More about that later.

We did manage to visit the old courthouse, a huge building made of quartzite. It has a small pioneer museum inside, which we briefly looked over, then started out again.  We walked by a new Orpheum Theatre and also an old  Orpheum Theatre. 

There are several blocks downtown which are known as the "Sculpture Walk."  Each year, new statues are displayed along the sidewalks of these blocks, and they are changed the next year, and sold.

Where's Waldo?
An art festival was going on downtown, and we strolled, with claustrophobia, through it. We also paused to read a historical marker showing a location of a bank robbery pulled off by John Dillinger in 1934.

One permanent statue is in Fawick Park at 10th St. and 2nd Ave.  It is a reproduction of the statue of David by Michelangelo.  It is an exact replica, full size, and one of only two castings ever made.  It was a gift to the city by Thomas Fawick, a citizen of Sioux Falls.  It took us awhile to walk to the park, but it was worth the jaunt. I am still looking for a smaller version for my front porch. 

We walked another few blocks to Falls Park, which is where the "Falls" in Sioux Falls are supposed to be.  Due to the horrendous drought this summer, the "falls" were little more than a trickle here and there running over the large rocks.  There were many people having picnics in the park, however, and lots of photos being taken of the water, what there was of it.

There was not only the art festival going on in this city, but also a German Festival taking place in Falls Park.  One thing that looked interesting was a dog race of Dachshunds.  Lots of these wiener dogs were in a cage, leaping and getting excited for their big moment.  Unfortunately, it was several hours away, so we had to forego that thrill.  We did, however, manage to look over the brats and potato pancakes that were for sale as the rest of the vendors were setting up for tonight's opening.

Instead, we walked to a lovely Italian restaurant near Falls Park for lunch, at Luciano's. There we split a chicken wrap sandwich and salad and cooled off with a couple of icy cold beers. Wonderful place, and good service. The food was delicious.

The Corn Palace in 2012
Side Mural
Onto 90W, we drove for just a little over an hour to Mitchell, South Dakota. This is a city made famous by its Corn Palace.  I told you yesterday about one that used to exist in Sioux City, Iowa. That one drew over 140,000 people to see it in that first year,  and was a huge sensation before the city stopped making it due to a flood.  The Corn Palace in Mitchell has been a yearly creation since 1892.  Each year a new theme is chosen and townspeople work to decorate the front and a side of the building with corn. Half a million people come each year to see the Corn Palace!

 Inside, the athletic court  is surrounded by murals made of corn. They use twelve different shades of corn, and rye, sour dock, milo, and grasses are used for the trim. Each ear of corn is cut in half lengthwise and nailed into place.  This year the theme is "Saluting Youth Activities," and the outside murals show dancers, golfers, athletes, artists, and all the things in which young folks participate. A concession worker told me that due to the drought this year, they may recycle this year's design, as they have done in previous drought times. It costs $130,000 each year to decorate the building. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

The First Corn Palace, 1892
Randy and I were in Mitchell some years ago, and the theme that year was celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Lewis and  Clark Expedition.  I hope you can see the peoples' clothing in the older photo.

Apparently Mitchell is the place to be on the weekend, with most of the hotels and motels filled up.  I confess that our "no plans, no reservations" mode of travel caused us to lose some time this evening while we looked for a place to stay. Two of the larger chain motels have inside water parks in their motels. I am not talking about places that are usually water parks. I mean Comfort Inn. The last place I want to be is in a motel filled with kids at a water park, but there were no rooms at the Inn.

The good news is that there are lots of motels here. We are in The Kelly Inn, which is pretty cute.  It's decorated with a woodsy theme, and there is a wooden bear hanging outside the building, on our window frame, as if he were peeking into our room. There is a full house here, also, with a tour bus and some family reunions going on. If we come back to Mitchell, we will plan ahead next time.

We got involved in a movie on HBO after we checked in, and didn't go for dinner until nearly 9 PM. Across the street is a Culver's Custard shop. We've been seeing these ever since Fort Wayne, Indiana, but had never been to one, so this was our easy opportunity. I had a bowl of chili and Randy had a "Butter Burger."   (The name alone...............)