Sturgis motorcycle rally to rev on despite COVID-19

South Dakota News

STURGIS, S.D. (KEVN/KOTA) – A popular South Dakota motorcycle rally is going on as scheduled, but not without a few changes.

Not even the coronavirus pandemic could cancel this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. But with the elimination of the opening ceremony, contests, tower for photos and other large events, some Sturgis residents say these changes will take away from the traditional fun.

Rod Woodruff disagrees.

“People don’t come because of the opening ceremony. It’s a gathering of ‘hey we got all these people here right now, how about you all get together for a picture and we take a picture.’ People aren’t going to remember that nobody asked for that particular photo,” says Woodruff.

Lauren Hensley, with Indian Motorcycle Sturgis, is not worried about the changes, and says the spirit of the rally lives on just by revving the engine.

While the Buffalo Chip is waiting for 55 gallon drums of hand sanitizer to arrive, Indian Motorcycle Sturgis is in the process of installing sneeze guards.

Even with the pandemic, neither business saw a huge decline.
Buffalo Chip only lost about a half a dozen customers. Hensley says because campgrounds are staying open, her phone is ringing off the hook.

“All of those calls are flowing in, I am absolutely confident it will be a fantastic rally,” said Hensley.

Woodruff agrees, but: “Did you think the 80th rally was going to turn out to be like this?”

“Of course not, But you know what we don’t know yet, is how it’s going to turn out. I gotta tell ya the mood of the people coming is wonderful because they are so dang happy to get out of that Marshall Law where they were locked up in the home with the family and stuff,” says Woodruff.

Hensley says it’s time for “two-wheel throttle therapy.”

“We need a little therapy. We need a little freedom. We need a little outdoors. You know, and so, what better way than to come to the 80th Rally.”

To reduce large crowd gatherings, the city stopped promoting the rally by cutting their advertising costs. The city will be saving more than $100,000 to advertise next year’s rally.

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