Whether you will be making your inaugural trip to the 66th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, SD on Aug. 7th 13th or you are a long time veteran of the event, this article will be a useful document providing a wealth of information including a brief history of the event, lodging information, schedule of events and safety tips and travel tips.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was organized by Clarence Pappy Hoel and members of the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club. The first ever Sturgis Rally was held on Aug. 14, 1938 featuring the Black Hills Classic, an event which featured 9 participants and a few spectators. It was determined that the event would be held annually on the first week after the first full weekend in August to avoid conflicts with other nearby events. By 1961 it had expanded to include Hill Climb and Motocross races and in 1963 the event expanded to three days. The Sturgis rally continued to grow in leaps and bounds and by 1975 it included a seven day event and by the year 2000 the event was attracting over half a million visitors annually with the 2000 rally attracting in excess of 600,000 visitors.
The small town of Sturgis, SD has a population of less than 7,000 so it is understandable that an event attracting over half a million travelers would create logistical problems with lodging concerns. If you are planning to attend, it is wise to make reservations for accommodations well in advance of your trip to ensure you can secure a room close to the site.
Camping is a popular option for those attending the rally. Nearby campgrounds include the following:
* Big Rig RV Park: – features wireless Internet access and spacious lots of 60 and 100 close to the rally site.
* Bulldog Campground: features RV camping as well as cabins which accommodate 2-8 guests. This campground is located five miles from Sturgis and features nightly entertainment and happy hour as well as an onsite restaurant.
* Creekside Campground: located 4 miles from Sturgis, this campground features RV camping, tent camping as well as cabins. Highlights of the campground include an onsite store selling food and beverages and easy highway access.
* Glencoe Camp Resort: has been catering to Sturgis participants for over 20 years. This campground has over 160 acres of camping with ample shade. In 2006 they will unveil a 34 acre outdoor amphitheater which will feature live music all week long. A 24 hour restaurant is also onsite for the convenience of campers.
* Hog Heaven Campground: – with over 150 acres of camping, this campground situated in the Black Hills is an ideal location for Sturgis participants. The campground is open from July 31st through Aug. 13th this year and will host live bands providing entertainment for guests.
* Katmandu Campground: – features 250 RV sites, cabins and 50 acres of camping. Located just two miles from Sturgis, this location is convenient for participants. Highlighted amenities include laundry facilities and wireless Internet access.
* Sturgis View Campground: – located only 1.5 miles from downtown Sturgis. This campground is famous for its spectacular views. Other highlights include RV camping, cabins and ample acreage for tent camping.
A complete event schedule for this years event can be found at the following web address: http://www.sturgismotorcyclerally.com/06Oeventschedule.pdf. This website provides the time, event name and location for each of the scheduled events. One way to fuel up for the extensive list of planned events is to partake in the daily pancake breakfast sponsored by the Marine Corps JROTC. They can be found daily serving breakfast from 6:00 am until 11:00 am in the Sturgis Brown High School. Most days also feature alternate breakfast events by other clubs, including Alcoholics Anonymous who also hosts meetings throughout the event, ensuring a variety of dining options for the most important meal of the day.
Once breakfast is out of the way, participants are ready to enjoy the rest of the festivities. Live music is one of the undeniable highlights of the event. Although there are a variety of talented musicians scheduled to perform at this years event, the Buffalo Chip Campground has a lineup of headline performers scheduled for 2006 including Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kid Rock, Alice in Chains and David Lee Roth.
There are also plenty of motorcycle related events to keep participants occupied. Boss Hoss demo rides are featured throughout the event. Burnout competitions are also popular with spectators and are offered a few times during the tournament at the Full Throttle Saloon. Another highlight is the Discovery Channels Biker Build Off featuring Detroit Bros. vs. Jason Kangas. In addition, there are demos and exhibits throughout the day each day of the event and shows featuring custom bikes from around the country. There are also going to be many vendors on hand offering everything from motorcycle related merchandise to tattoos as well as food and beverages.
An unfortunate aspect of Sturgis is the frequent occurrence of the disappearance of motorcycles during the event. Estimates indicate approximately $250,000 worth of motorcycles are stolen each year during the course of the event. Motorcycles on the higher end of the price spectrum as well as custom bikes and show models are those most likely to be stolen, but all participants should take precautions to avoid becoming a victim. Care should be taken to park in well lit, high traffic locations as opposed to dark areas with few passersby. Additionally, participants should avoid leaving valuables such as cameras, leathers and souvenirs on their bike. Those who will be attending the event should also invest in a high quality lock to secure their bike. Even higher quality locks are not fool-proof to experienced thieves but they are a definite deterrent. Lower quality locks are not considered adequate protection because they can easily be broken or cut.
Participants who will be traveling long distances to the event on their motorcycle should also be aware of safety issues while traveling. Even those experienced with long distance rides should take safety precautions to ensure a smooth trip. One precaution is to create a copy of your detailed itinerary to leave in the possession of a friend or relative who will not be traveling with you. Travelers are also warned against traveling alone. Whenever possible, travelers should have at least one other rider accompany them on their trip. Taking frequent stops to rest and retiring for the night before fatigue sets in is also advisable.