The Sturgis, South Dakota city council voted 8-1 in June to host the 80th-anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this year, in spite of the COVID-19 epidemic in the US.
Anywhere from 250,000 to 750,000 people visit the Black Hills of South Dakota for the ten-day rally. Clarence “Pappy” Hoel started the annual event in 1938.
Of course, there is controversy over the massive rally in the days of the coronavirus, and some are worried that the rally could be a super-spreader event. Thousands of attendees are definitely in the high-risk category for coronavirus.
Apparently, attendees of the rally are willing to take a risk and escape the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by most states that South Dakota doesn’t have. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Many who rode their bikes into Sturgis on Friday expressed defiance at the rules and restrictions that have marked life in many locales during the pandemic. People rode from across the country to a state that offered a reprieve from coronavirus restrictions, as South Dakota has no special limits on indoor crowds, no mask mandates and a governor who is eager to welcome visitors and the money they bring.
While many Americans would consider the risk of getting coronavirus too great at an event like this, motorcycle riders, many of whom have attended the event for decades, are saying they’ll take their chances, which is what they do every time they ride a motorcycle, anyway.
The mayor of Sturgis, Mark Carstensen, is hoping that people will follow the CDC guidelines and use masks and hand sanitizer, but he is a rally enthusiast. He recently said that the best way to ensure a good turnout would be to tell bikers not to come.
“I’ve always said for ten years of being mayor… if we want the largest rally, the city of Sturgis should say we’re not having a rally. I believe that ignites the spirit of both motorcyclists and Americans. This country was built on rights and freedoms and motorcyclists certainly illustrate that every day with the way they live.”
South Dakota’s pro-business governor, Kristi Noem, has gone on record declaring that she trusts the people of South Dakota to make their own decisions on how they handle the coronavirus risks. She welcomed the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally riders and the money they bring to her state.
We hope people come. Our economy benefits when people come and visit us.
The city of Sturgis stands to rake in around $1 million in tax revenue and the local businesses.