How do you feel about the Corn Palace Festival’s financial performance?

I reported today that the Corn Palace Festival and some associated events cost — or "lost," depending on who’s talking — the city of Mitchell about $37,000.

City Council members at last night’s meeting seemed unanimously OK with that, largely because they think the city receives a boost in sales taxes from the festival.

How do you feel about the festival’s financial performance?

P.S. You can click here to listen to the council’s entire discussion with Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling. And you can click here to see the documents that Schilling gave to the council members.

15 thoughts on “How do you feel about the Corn Palace Festival’s financial performance?

  1. We have this story of the financial loss being shrugged off as something else due to people “guessing” that we made up the money in increased sales tax revenue.

    We also have another story talking about actual sales tax revenue.

    Seth – do you have enough data to dig into the actual sales tax numbers for each day of the quarter and to get any idea on whether or not there is a significant bump in sales tax revenue that results from the Corn Palace Festival?

  2. I thought about trying to dig into the numbers to see if there was an identifiable bump from the festival.

    I decided that it’s probably not a worthwhile exercise. Sales tax numbers are notoriously unreliable, because they’re constantly being revised due to underpayments, overpayments and late payments by businesses. There’s also a lag of weeks or months as taxes pass from the customer to the business, from the business to the state, and from the state to the city.

    Even if you could link sales-tax collections to the time of the festival, you’d have no way of knowing whether those sales were generated by the festival or something else.

    I could still try to put that information together. The state’s sales-tax data is grouped by industries such as hotels and restaurants, and state officials can generally estimate the amount of lag time in their numbers.

    I’d probably come up with imperfect data that nobody seems terribly concerned about anyway. As such, I’ll probably spend my time working on other stories.

  3. and the city still holds on to the idea of an events centers- definition of insanity- doing the same thing over and over expecting different results? We will vote you down

  4. Sales tax figures unreliable? Just what are you alleging? Methinks you need to do your homework! Rather than just take the easy way, why don’t you do some good journalism and check on the final data from the city auditor’s office, get the specific data from restaurants & inns, follow up asking them how much of an increase from normal revenues, then, voila, you should have a reasonable idea of what the increase due to the festival.

  5. Mitchell, like it or not, is defined by the Corn Palace. Mention Mitchell anywhere in the Midwest and people know the Corn Palace. Try going without the Corn Palace, its festival, its events for a couple years and see if we can ruin Mitchell. C’Mon. Corn Palace is good for Mitchell. Without it we are Huron with an interstate.

  6. Joe Bloe has an excellent point. The CP is a big deal. And besides, who would want to be a Huron without the interstate?

  7. Another complicating factor in trying to ascertain the festival’s impact on sales taxes is the occurrence of Dakotafest, the Miller Lite Bull Bash and the state VFW state minors baseball tournament all in the same month (August). There’s also tourist traffic, which is constant and heavy during that same month.

    Those factors will make it even more difficult to trace any August bump in taxable sales to any single cause, because the reports cover the entire month. There aren’t any reports for individual weeks or days.

    If you think I’m making excuses, so be it. I’ve got to make decisions about how to spend my time, and right now I’m just not willing to go on a wild goose chase after numbers that are probably impossible to compile.

  8. …numbers that still won’t change the fact that the Corn Palace festival lost money. I think the sales tax excuse is a lame attempt to justify the loss. Is anyone really surprised that this thing lost money?

  9. To You’re Kidding,
    Good name as you must be kidding to think any number of retailers would share accurate sales info in this competitive market/economy. Seth is right to not waste his time.

  10. I’m all for having quality entertainment here during Corn Palace week but I thought the $100,000 to bring in David Cook was a but much. Are American Idol winners (he did win correct?) really worth that much? Am curiuos how his people justify charging that amount. We could have easily took it in the shorts on that one.

  11. Yes, the Corn Palace defines Mitchell, but we still have to be concerned about losing money every year. I don’t think many businesses could continue to operate this way so why is it OK to lose taxpayer money? I’m not in the hotel or resttaurant business so it isn’t helping me one bit.

  12. If economic development and cvb tout the favorable financial impact of having these performers — especially during this — or any — competitive economy without sharing, then you must concede that any economic impact would be a guess. In other words, the palace lost $37,000 of taxpayer money, but that’s okay, because the Mitchell hospitality sector got a windfall, “but we’re not going to tell you how much.” You’ll guarantee that you’ll never get voter support for an events center here, not because you don’t or won’t go after hard data, but because our signature event loses money.

  13. No big surprise the CP festival once again did not come out in the black. $100,000 for David Cook was ridiculous….he only sang for one hour, the rest of the concert was his opening act and intermission….CRAZY! But yet the events center supporters, still feel we can build it and make it pay for itself….yeah right, I dont think so. Ask the folks at Trail King who just got laid off, some with 20+ years service in, how many events they plan to attend this year & next. Ask the folks at Twin City Fan that were used to working 50+ hours a week and are now down to 32 hrs a week. Keep the festival, keep the acts reasonable, and use common sense.

  14. Wake up local voters! A clique of local voters have elected public school, city, and county officials in your community who share mutual special interests and promote their clique’s self interests. Guess who has been hired to fill supervisory positions in your public school, city, and county offices?

    The voting clique’s elected officials and hired public employee supervisors have also mastered the art of sweeping their dirt under their rugs to prevent public disclosure. It is time for all Mitchell voters to cast votes in upcoming local elections throwing these bums out of office. It is time for the cliquish politically correct, back stabbing, special interst decision-making to end!

    It is time to start spending The People’s tax dollars on projects and programs benefitting All of The People not just voting clique’s special interests.

  15. I thought the reason for the Festival was to entertain and have a good time. I know making money is an important part, what festival or fair venue is held in the hopes of making a profit? If we were to add in the money that our local business (resturants/hotels/shops etc..) pull in during the festival there was probably a profit made…if we look at the picture.. Do other fair venues make a profit? Are we the only one that falls short? I think we do have to try to pull in entertainment that people woule enjoy, if you don’t then people would complain about that. It’s a double edge sword.

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