It is amazing what happened to a small town that hosted a simple bike race back in 1938. Sturgis, South Dakota, is about the size of Winters, but swells in population the second week of August. The estimates vary, but more than 300,000 motorcycles show up each and every year. This will be the 80th time that the city/county will host the event, and yes, they are still planning on taking care of up to 250,000 people this year, about half of what they had last year.
Sturgis advertises itself as “The Best Party Anywhere,” and if you have ever been there, it is hard to argue. The last time I was at the rally was 1998 and I thought it had too many people back then. The ride to Sturgis is the best part of the adventure. Seeing Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Mountain, Devils Tower, Deadwood, the Badlands and the Black Hills is a once in lifetime vacation that you can experience every year if you have the time, and energy.
Personal space doesn’t exist when you are in downtown Sturgis. Bikes are parked everywhere there is an empty space and even where you don’t think a bike would fit. Bars and restaurants are packed, shoulder to shoulder while civic groups use the event to raise thousands of dollars with pancake breakfasts, turkey legs, tri-tip sandwiches, you name it and some group is selling it.
There are more leather, t-shirt and tattoo shops per square foot than anywhere on earth. It is one big party for a little over a week and then times go back to normal small town life. People worry about losing their pharmacy and hardware store and worry about funding their schools and youth activities. Merchants try to figure out how to make a living off tourists after August rides by.
Right about now, farms turn into campgrounds and RV parks while families rent out their homes and businesses for the month. It would be hard to budget for a business that is only open for 10 days a year, but Sturgis makes it happen.
I was reading that the citizens of Sturgis wanted to cancel the rally this year but the business community convinced the city council to keep the rally open. Some argued that the people would come even if the city council said they were closed, which I believe to be true. Most businesses said they would be open no matter what the council said because South Dakota isn’t in lock down with few COVID-19 cases in the state. There isn’t anyone home in South Dakota, but that will change next week.
If you are bored and want to test your immune system, you might want to travel to South Dakota next week. I wouldn’t even think about going, there will still be too many people. Those living in Sturgis are right in trying to limit their exposure to outsiders during a pandemic, but people will come and merchants will try and make enough money to make it to next year.
Live goes on and this too will pass.
Try and behave yourselves and have a good week. It could be worse, we could live in Sturgis.