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Sturgis Rally Tax Receipts up 4.5% over Last Year

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally had fewer vendors this year but still pulled in more taxes from rallygoers than in 2016, says the Department of Revenue:

To date, the South Dakota Department of Revenue has collected $1.26 million in taxes from temporary vendors at the 2017 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The state sales tax accounts for the majority of collections with $715,757. At this time last year, the Department of Revenue collected $1.19 million in taxes with $674,660 in state sales tax.

While tax revenue increased in 2017, the number of vendors in the Black Hills area decreased. The 2017 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally featured 1,050 vendors–down from last year’s tally of 1,153 [SD Department of Revenue, press release, 2017.09.01].

That’s a 5.9% increase in tax receipts from 4.5% more visitors:

Kristi Sandal, spokesperson for the state DOT, said counters at nine locations around Sturgis show that 376,033 vehicles entered Sturgis as compared with 359,814 in 2016 for the seven-day period from Aug. 4 through Aug. 11.

Sandal said that only Tuesday traffic was down slightly from the year previous, but all other days were up from 3.8 percent on Wednesday to 11.3 percent on Friday, Aug. 4, the first official day of the rally [staff, “2017 Rally Quiet, Cool, Calm,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.08.14].

We don’t have statewide numbers for tax receipts for all of August yet, taxable sales statewide were up 3.1% in July, down 0.2% in June, and up 1.0% in May.


  1. Rorschach 2017-09-04 12:01

    Last year was a real low-water mark for the rally. Good to see that numbers bounced back a bit.

    Motorcycle riders are getting older, and there are not as many coming into the hobby as ageing out. Harley Davidson still is not making fun lower displacement motorcycles to draw new young riders to the company. H-D 500 and 750 Street motorcycles are mediocre at best – which is why Rep. Noem chose that motorcycle that fits her for her photo op. Fortunately, foreign motorcycle brands will fill the void of motorcycles that younger people like. The H-D market is saturated, and there are tons of H-D’s sitting in people’s garages that don’t get ridden. H-D has very poor prospects for US sales in coming years, which is why the company is focusing on cost cutting.

    Future Sturgis rallies will feature fewer and fewer fat graybeards riding hogs and more people on adventure bikes built in Europe, Japan India and China.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-09-04 12:13

    Adventure bikes! That term by itself makes me want to buy one.

    Can the Sturgis rally rebrand itself for the kind of younger riders on the kind of bikes you’re talking about? Do younger riders want more off-road riding, dirt-biking on the old logging roads?

  3. Rorschach 2017-09-04 12:27

    The motorcycle industry is in the midst of a transition for the better. Yes, younger riders want something they can take off the paved roads, but their first bike for that purpose is probably going to be a scrambler rather than an adventure bike. More manufacturers are building scrambler-type motorcycles that are capable off the beaten path. There are more low-displacement/low cost adventure bikes coming onto the market too that will entice riders looking to upgrade. Harley has decided to miss this boat and focus its attention entirely on the fat graybeards.

  4. grudznick 2017-09-04 21:06

    The Government will probably not let people go gallivanting around the woods on these pollution spewing motorcycles. I say we need to close the rally down.

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