Sturgis, the Black Hills Motorcycle Rally, ended Sunday and most of the official numbers haven’t been calculated yet but it looks like it was another banner year for motorcycle tourism.
Event sponsors said this years rally attracted more visitors than last year. Event sponsors say that every year but South Dakota Highway Patrol Captain Kevin Karley told Rapid City television station KNBN “we can see the traffic is up this year.” Last year’s official attendance was 416,000. That’s about 30 percent less than 2000 when an estimated 604,000 bikers attended the rally. The city of Sturgis issued 734 temporary vendor licenses this year which was 42 more than last year. There were 69 motorcycle accidents resulting in injuries this year. Last year there were only 50. There were 50 non-injury accidents last year. This year there were only 33.
Cops wrote 1,535 traffic tickets and issued 4,932 warnings for violations. There were 255 drunken driving arrests, four more than last year, and 275 drug arrests. Last year there were only 219. The 275 drug arrests amount to about 15 percent of all the drug arrests the entire state of South Dakota expects to make this year. Cops seized nine vehicles and $13,221 in cash as a result of drug arrests.
Behind The Numbers
One of the DUIs was awarded to second generation daredevil Robbie Knievel. Fellow stuntman Clint Ewing wasn’t so lucky. Ewing, who holds the record for the longest motorcycle ride through a 2,900 “tunnel of fire” tried to break his own record at the Buffalo Chip Campground last Wednesday. The video below seems to indicate Clint might have gotten as far as 300 feet through the 360 foot long tunnel before he crashed and ran screaming and flailing through the side of the tunnel. He suffered third degree burns and is now being treated at a burn center in Los Angeles.
The state of South Dakota estimates that rally attendees spend about $250 a day each to attend Sturgis and those numbers are probably on the low side. The minimum price of a hotel room in Rapid City or Sturgis is $200 a might. Weekly rates to camp at the Buffalo Chip are $180 for dry RVs, $450 for RV hookups and $150 for a tent spot. According to an article in the Rapid City Journal a typical rally visitor spends about $400 for gas travelling to Sturgis and about $750 for tee-shirts, souvenirs, concerts, beer and food. This years concerts included Bret Michaels, Vince Neil, Kid Rock, ZZ Top, Rob Zombie and Mastodon.
The sleazy side of Sturgis included a sting by the Rapid City Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force that led to the arrests of nine men on charges of trying to buy sex with underage girls after responding to online ads.
There were no reported “motorcycle gang” incidents this year.
Sturgis, with a population of 6,500, spent about $1 million to host the rally. The city will probably reallize a profit of about $350,000 which will amount to about 80 percent of its annual budget.