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63% of Sturgis Residents Want to Delay Rally

The Sturgis City Council is holding a special meeting tonight at 6:30 Mountain to discuss, among other things, the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The 80th Rally is scheduled to descend on the Black Hills August 7–15, but, according to a citywide survey the city mailed out, if Sturgis residents got to vote, they’d put it off until we’re a little more certain about the coronavirus:

For more than a month, the Sturgis City Council has been seeking input from a variety of sources on whether the City of Sturgis should host the 80th Anniversary City of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  The decision is incredibly complex as it has a multitude of impacts within Sturgis and throughout Western South Dakota.

One of the data points included a survey of residents within the City of Sturgis.  In total, 3,290 surveys were mailed to the resident addresses used by the 2020 Census.  The survey results included the following:

  • 1,816 surveys returned (55.2%)
  • 1,144 responses indicated that they would like the event to be postponed (62.9%)
  • 672 responses indicated that they would like the event to proceed (37.0%)
  • 7 responses included notes stating that they did not care either way (0.4%)

The Council is continuing to gather data and speak with numerous individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, and various other groups throughout the state in order to make the wisest choice possible [City of Sturgis, “Survey Results Added to Council Considerations,” city website, retrieved 2020.06.08].

The Sturgis City Council is just having the conversation tonight; they won’t make any decisions pertaining to maybe changing the Rally until their June 15 meeting. But Buffalo Chip rally site owner Rod Woodruff, who answers to his profit margin and not his neighbors, says he’ll be hosting Rally camping and concerts in August regardless of any city edicts. Woodruff anticipates lower attendance, but he’ll take whatever he can get. “We’re just dang happy,” Woodruff told KOTA-TV, “to be in South Dakota where common sense continues to prevail.”

Yet the most common sense in Sturgis appears to be that the Rally should wait.


  1. jerry 2020-06-08 12:26

    Rod Woodruff has never held the city of Sturgis in any kind of esteem. Who can be surprised that this skin tag would want to infect people with the plague and especially, if they happen to live in Sturgis. More death in Sturgis just means more housing lots available for future beer gardens and tattoo shops.

  2. jerry 2020-06-08 12:53

    Recession started in February and then we had the shutdowns that saved millions of lives. Now trumpians like Rod Woodruff want to open his venue to restart the infections and death to cripple us further. Thanks to the mayor and council in Rapid City for doing what you did to protect and serve the community. Step up Sturgis and do the same by shutting down the rally.

    “Harsh nationwide lockdowns, while widely loathed by those undergoing them, may have saved millions of lives and prevented hundreds of millions of infections, according to a pair of studies published Monday in the medical journal Nature.

    The first study from researchers at the University of California at Berkeley estimated that shutdown orders prevented 285 million new infections in China and about 60 million in the United States. The other study, from Imperial College London, said the shutdowns in Europe saved 3.1 million lives and cut infection rates by 82 percent.” Washington Post 6.8.2020

    If trump and the trumpians would have acted sooner in the United States, there would be at least 60,000 Americans still alive today. Of course, those numbers are still trending upward, but we might have been able to corral it like New Zealand did.

  3. Donald Pay 2020-06-08 14:06

    The rate of return of those surveys is pretty telling. You rarely get half of that 55% to show up at a local election, and to get two-thirds of those opposed to the rally this year is pretty telling. Woodruff is right about one thing: commonsense should prevail. If it does, they will cancel the rally for this year.

    William Shakespeare, his theatre and his acting troupe survived various disease outbreaks because authorities had the good sense to lock down the city several times. Without the commonsense of the authorities, there is a question whether Shakespeare would have survived to write his plays. You have to wonder if South Dakota authorities have as much commonsense as the the Londoners in Shakespeare’s time.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-06-08 19:35

    Indeed, Donald, that strong response rate seems to lend more validity to the results. The Sturgis survey suggests that the majority of regular folks are genuinely pro-life… but a handful of powerful businesspeople and decisionmakers say their profits are more important than life itself.

  5. Debbo 2020-06-08 20:04

    Didn’t Kruel Kristi say something about how she trusts South Dakotans to do the right thing? They’re pretty clear in Sturgis regarding what they believe the right thing is.

    What about Meade County? Can’t it shut down campgrounds? Or is Buffalo Chip really it’s own little kingdom? The tribes and women dream of that kind of autonomy.

  6. Jenny 2020-06-08 20:15

    They shouldn’t even have the rally this year.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-06-09 07:20

    Kristi trusts the Republican minority to do the things that make her look good and keep her in power. She trusts the business elites to keep stocking her campaign chest.

    We can trust hundreds of thousands of sensible tourists not to crowd into Sturgis this year. But a minority of the usual rally crowd will still show up and pose a public health risk to the people of Sturgis and the Black Hills. Sensible locals could just shut their doors and leave town… but Sturgis medical personnel don’t have that option:

    A local nurse said there are not enough medical beds available to deal with trauma patients and COVID-19 patients at the same time.

    “In many rallies past we ran out of ICU beds,” the nurse said. “We did organ donations. We could not have vacation for three weeks around the rally. We had mandatory extra shifts. We had mandatory on call time. And that’s your regular rallies. Not your 80th Rally and not your 80th Rally with COVID” [Alexus Davila, “Fate of 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Still in City Council’s Hands,” KOTA-TV, 2020.06.08].

    The decisions of a minority take away liberty from a majority. Where’s our freedom, Kristi? It seems we need a little more Sturgis government to preserve everyone’s freedom.

  8. Eve Fisher 2020-06-09 14:42

    Amen, Cory.
    “If you want freedom, personal responsibility, and a government that works for you rather than dictates to you, South Dakota is the place to get it.” – Kristi Noem
    But the truth is, her idea of freedom, personal responsibility, and good government is to ignore all citizens concerns and decisions except (1) her wealthy campaign donors, and (2) anyone who can give her enough money and clout to get her out of South Dakota and into the nationals.

  9. Eve Fisher 2020-06-09 14:44

    Meanwhile, yes, a rally will occur, authorized or not. And there will be a wave of infections following the rally, because – despite the recommendations which I’m sure the city council will put in place – there will be about as much social distancing and masking as we saw at the Red Rock Bar bikers’ fundraiser for the Children’s Home Society, only with a lot more people.

    Personally, between the Californian COVID-19 refugees, the whoopee crowd of Memorial Day weekend, the July 3rd fireworks, and Sturgis, I will stay as far away from West River as I can. I will miss it – we’ve come out almost every year and wandered through the parks and small towns, with great joy. But if I’m going to risk my life, and my husband’s life (who has significant health issues), it’s going to be for something larger than my own personal pleasures.

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