Constructed in 1921, the Corn Palace is a tourist attraction that attracts over a half million people annually. It is primarily famous for being decorated with a series of annually-changing murals made of corn and other native grains and grasses. Inside the Palace, however, there is a multi-purpose space suitable for hosting sports and concerts. The space is most often used for basketball, hosting the Dakota Wesleyan University and Mitchell High School teams, but it can also be used for hockey.
The idea to hold a game at the Corn Palace was originally proposed by Rapids GM Paul Mindegaard, a native of Mitchell. “When I was growing up, the idea of playing at the Corn Palace was sort of the ultimate,” said Mindegaard. “We had state basketball tournaments here and stuff, and everyone always loved it. And I thought it would be a fun opportunity for our guys to experience it.”
The game drew an enthusiastic sellout crowd of 3,200 that cheered on the Rapids with vigor. About a quarter of the crowd consisted of Rapids season ticket holders who made the four-hour trip from the team’s usual home in Rapid City to catch the game.
“This is really cool and uniquely South Dakota,” said Ralph Lawson, one of the fans who made the trip. “I love the Corn Palace, and I want to be able to tell our grandkids we were here for this.”
The Rapids generally were very happy about the game. “The atmosphere here was great,” said RW Elliott Pepper. “It reminds me of junior [hockey], where you played in those intimate barns where it’s packed to the rafters with diehards.” C Lars Karlsson and LW “Flyin’ Ryan” Airston spent a good deal of time before the game taking selfies with the murals (which are always designed around a theme; this year’s is “Rock of Ages”). “It’s really neat where they’re able to do with corn,” said Airston. “You try to imagine how much time it takes them to make these, and it blows your mind.”
The visiting Igloos were a bit less charmed with the experience, particularly the travel time involved. “I mean, it’s already kind of a pain to get out here for games,” said Igloos RW Nicklas Ericsson. “You have to change planes at least once. But then you fly in, and you get on a bus and drive for hours out to the middle of nowhere so you can play in a tourist trap.” Teammate Remi Montrechere disagreed however, saying, “I thought it was going to be a joke before we got here, but to tell you the truth, the murals are pretty great. The trip’s kind of a pain, but it’s a fun time.”