Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 2016 – That’s A Wrap

The vendors have packed up, the campgrounds are empty, and traffic is back to normal now, as the 2016 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally becomes just another fond memory. Regular attendees have already begun counting down to next year’s event.

Perhaps the biggest news from this year’s rally was the noticeable drop in attendance from the 2015 75th anniversary party. It’s estimated that attendance was down almost 40 percent from last year, with approximately half a million motorcyclists buzzing around. The South Dakota DOT reported 508,610 bikers in Sturgis, compared to 830,503 in 2015- with nearly half of those being female.

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The up-side to having fewer riders was definitely less accidents, injuries, and fatalities. However, with fewer riders to keep tabs on, local and state law enforcement officials were able to see and cite more riding- and non-riding- offenses.

Officers issued approximately 200 more traffic citations than they did in 2015, and made significantly more impaired driving arrests. The Meade County Sheriff’s Office reported varied statistics for the week, with 34 warrants served this year, up from 28 last year, they received only 496 calls for service, down from 820 in 2015. Deputies made nearly twice as many felony arrests this year as last, at 15. According to state date, there were also 1,413 citations issued at this year’s rally. This was up 17% from 2015.

Fewer attendees also mean fewer revenue dollars. In spite of that, however, Sturgis city officials are calling this year’s rally a “good” one. Half a million bikers and families got to enjoy a week of amazing music, motorcycle events, and rides. Official numbers won’t be released for as much as four to six weeks, pending the collection of all data. The city did, however, issue 723 temporary vending permits for this year’s rally.

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And there was certainly no shortage of things to do in Sturgis and the surrounding areas. Bartenders and servers stayed busy keeping rally-goers refreshed as they took in the multitude of concerts, bike shows, and stunts exhibitions. Aviators with the 28th Bomb Wing stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base treated observers to a B-1 flyover to cap off the 16th Annual Veterans Recognition Ceremony. One happy couple even tied the knot at the Harley-Davidson Rally Point to commemorate the week.

The Law Tigers, America’s Motorcycle Lawyers, had a great time with Sturgis Guns, Ben and Eric Bostrom and friends for the 3rd Annual Sturgis Boz Bros Ride that raises money for Sturgis Police Department. What a great time!

The Legendary Buffalo Chip, ground zero for major concerts during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, nailed it with Kid Rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Five Finger Death Punch and more. The Full Throttle Saloon, though not 100% complete, was definitely a place to be.

Beautiful view from the new Full Throttle Saloon
Beautiful view from the new Full Throttle Saloon

Black Hills Harley-Davidson, also known as the Rally at Exit 55, becomes a city itself during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Every year they hold an Annual Pre-Rally Rollout, a kick off to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. It’s a fantastic way to see all that great merchandise at great discounts without the rally crowds around you. You also get first peek at what the rally vendors have to offer. Black Hills Harley-Davidson had about 120 vendors representing around 150 different companies. Definitely a Sturgis Rally one-stop-shop.

Black Hills Harley-Davidson becomes it's own city during the rally.
Black Hills Harley-Davidson becomes it’s own city during the rally.

Our friends at Black Hills Harley-Davidson also helped bring AMA Pro Flat Track back to the Black Hills during the 76th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with the BLACK HILLS HALF MILE! It was a very exciting night and brought out many celebs including Dana While, President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Audrey Nesbitt & Ari Levenbaum with President of UFC Dana White
Audrey Nesbitt & Ari Levenbaum with President of UFC Dana White

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is more than concerts and vendors. The riding in and around the Black Hills is amazing. We were fortunate to have the time to ride up by Mount Rushmore, Spearfish Canyon and out to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. Beautiful, scenic rides and much easier to get around due to rally numbers being down.

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If you missed out on this year’s festivities, don’t fret- event coordinators are already busy putting together an action-packed schedule of events for 2017. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally continues to be a “must attend” event for all motorcyclists and one that should be on every biker’s motorcycle ‘bucket list’.