Unusual Attractions Offer Towns a Mark on the Map

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — How many road trips have we all been on with parents or friends who want to stop off to see the “World’s Largest Ball of Twine” or even have a stopover in that now-famous place in New Mexico, Roswell, where aliens supposedly crashed in the 1950s?

Those fun stops to see oddities and stretch our legs oftentimes turns into a town’s livelihood or, at the very least, the thing that puts that town on the map. (They can even worth fighting about. There are two claims to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, one in Darwin, Minn., that was built by one person and another in Cawker City, Kan., which was built by a community.)

The Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D., made completely with corn, is one of the many unusual attractions in the United States that put a town on the map.

The Corn Palace was built in 1892 to showcase the corn crop and help attract people to move to the area, says Mark Schilling, the attraction’s director. In 1905, when the town was in the running for the capital of South Dakota, a new palace was built and in 1921, a third.

“Each time, it got larger with more amenities,” Schilling says. “People started coming from all around to trade crops and for the annual celebration.”

Today, the Corn Palace attracts road trippers from all over the country, who stop to see the 12 murals made completely of corn. The murals, which use a dozen natural colors of corn, are changed every year, based on a theme decided upon by a committee and the artistry of several different corn artists.

The 45,000-square-foot Corn Palace draws approximately 500,000 visitors each year to the town of 15,000 and generates $4 million to $5 million in revenue for the city. Schilling says that about 300,000 come specifically to the Corn Palace and about 200,000 come for the annual festival.