- Associated Press - Friday, May 6, 2016

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) - The murals on the Corn Palace tourist attraction in Mitchell will stay in place a year longer than planned.

The city pays about $157,000 each year to redecorate the building’s exterior, which includes the murals made from corn of different varieties and color.

Mayor Jerry Toomey announced Thursday that he’s decided to leave the existing murals for another year to save money, The Daily Republic (http://bit.ly/1QTXnGF ) reported. He suggested only replacing the grasses on the murals this year and seeing how the murals hold up for a second year.

From 2011 to 2015, the Corn Palace has operated at a deficit of at least $300,000 annually, with expenses topping revenues by $425,541 in 2015.

The idea has generated mixed reactions from residents and officials, but Toomey said the timing is right to try out the idea because of construction work planned in late August or early September directly south of the Corn Palace.

Wade Strand grows the colored corn and the rye for the Corn Palace decorations. He said he understands the city’s desire to save money, but he hopes officials also understand the importance of the murals to the appeal of the Corn Palace.

“I know why they’re doing it, they’re trying to make the Corn Palace not lose so much money,” he said. “At the end of the day, they need to keep in mind the corn is why people come to the Corn Palace.”

The Corn Palace is billed as the world’s only palace dedicated to the grain. It attracts about 200,000 tourists each year.

The current theme is “Rock of Ages,” with murals featuring musicians such as Willie Nelson and Elvis.

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Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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