News Riding

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Full Swing

Up to 700,000 enthusiasts are expected to attend the 81st Annual Motorcycle Rally

August 10, 2021

By Kali Kotoski

The sleepy town of Sturgis, South Dakota has once again ignited with a flurry of motorcyclists coming in for the 10-day motorcycle rally, with local officials estimating they could see an attendance of up to three-quarters of a million bikers from all over the country.

Last year’s 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, while clouded by COVID-19 concerns, still brought in a large crowd as officials adopted the mantra “we couldn’t stop them from coming even if we tried.”

The same goes for this year, except pent-up frustrations have boiled over and it could lead to one of the biggest rallies in Sturgis’ storied history of being a mecca for celebrating two-wheeled freedom.

Opening ceremonies for the 81st Sturgis Motorcycle Rally started on August 6 with a parade of Clydesdales marching down Main Street to kickoff the raucous event. Reports from the ground show that relaxing an open container ban on beer and wine has helped keep bar crowds less dense. But pulling off the bottle in public can still lead to a citation.

Law enforcement in Sturgis and Meade County are reporting a large increase in calls for service compared to previous years. Most of those calls have been for open container violations and traffic incidents.

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally brings motorcyclists together.

“There are more people here than in the 31 years I’ve been doing this,” Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin told the Rapid City Journal. “We are asking the public to please follow our traffic laws and be safe out there.”

Meanwhile, the City of Sturgis has partnered with the South Dakota Department of Health and Monument Health to provide free COVID-19 self-test kits during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally if people have concerns over potential exposure.

Beyond the gobs of bike and stunt shows, the camping and the good weather thus far, the Sturgis Buffalo Chip has another all-star lineup of bands to perform at the lauded campground. There are performances by Kid Rock, ZZ Top and Clint Black, to name a few.

Unfortunately, REO Speed Wagon has canceled their performance after band members received positive COVID-19 tests and are following CDC recommendations, according to an August 5 press release.

Nevertheless, the rally is on and the economic impact is already being felt with the City issuing 686 temporary vending licenses and trash collection—one of the few ways to accurately gauge attendance—already up 6 percent compared to last year.

The rally officially concludes on August 15.

Motorcyclists on their way to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally