SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Attendance, demographics and sales tax revenue for the 83rd Sturgis Motorcycle Rally were announced today during the Post-Sturgis Rally Summit.
“The rally has swelled up larger than Sturgis can hold and impacts everybody throughout the whole Black Hills,” Sturgis Mayor Mark Castensen said at the Summit in Sturgis. “It’s also apparent that the Sturgis Rally has an impact on the whole state.”
During the 10-day rally, there were 617,000 attendees, which is second only to the 75th Rally in 2015, Beka Zerbst, the president of the Sturgis City Council, said. The previous year saw 611,447 people, 2021 had 700,295 attendees and in 2020, only 549,747 arrived for the Sturgis Rally.
This year, the city used a new way of calculating Rally guests through people’s mobile devices. In previous years, Sturgis relied on Department of Transportation vehicle counters positioned on the interstate and highways for an attendance count.
“The numbers reflected one vehicle crossing the counter as traffic into Sturgis,” Zerbst said of the old tracking method. “One motorcycle could have two or more passengers or one car could have multiple passengers. Our new system collects data from an individual user’s cell phone.”
Deb Holland, director of Communications for the City of Sturgis, gave demographic information for the 2023 Rally. Attendees aged 25-44 rose to 29%, people 45-64 increased from 25% in 2022 to 29% this year and those over age 65 decreased to 18%.
“I know we talk about, ‘Is the Rally dying?’ We’ll look at that, 65 and older has actually dropped,” Holland said. “That’s encouraging to see some of the younger demographics showing those increases.”
Holland also said that the average income for Sturgis Rally goers was $84,000, with 25% of people’s income between $100,000-$150,000. The states with the highest in attendance were South Dakota with 21%, Minnesota with 7.5%, Colorado with 7%, Wyoming with 4.2% and Iowa with 4%.
The average time people spent in South Dakota for the rally was three days and one hour, which is down from last year’s four days and 14 hours, Mike Gussiaas, chief marketing officer for the Department of Tourism, said.
Zerbst said that this year’s attendees brought in $658,581 in sales tax revenue. According to a survey by the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce, 86% of the 300 chamber businesses in Sturgis said the Rally had an overall positive effect. Of that, 67% report an extremely positive outcome.
Veronica Grosek, the executive director of the Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce, said local businesses cited the biggest positives as an increase in revenue, business-to-consumer networking and advertising opportunities.
At Tuesday’s Summit, Grosek quoted a local, year-round retailer and their thoughts on the business the Rally brings in.
“Staff workload and availability is a challenge, they wish for better variety and quality of retail offerings throughout the event,” Grosek read. “But, our biggest benefit is the year-round tourism that the rally draws through Sturgis.”
Every Sturgis Rally Summit, the sponsorship and branding board likes to highlight one of the sponsors for that year. This year, Lance Sherer, the director for Sturgis Sponsorship, spoke about the Motorcycle Industry Council’s Ride with Us initiative.
Ride With Us is an initiative to get young or non-riders interested in the lifestyle and culture of riding. In 2022, 12% of Rally goers did not have a motorcycle, so this year they focused on giving those people opportunities to ride.
The program included 30-minute introductory sessions, free of charge and all motorcycle and protective gear was provided.
“Rain, as with all this, was definitely a factor for the first few days,” Sherer said. “The Ride with Us team’s energy, commitment and passion more than made up for that with many authentic attendee interactions and first rides.”