The South Dakota Dept of Public Safety says the first 2 days of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally produced about the number of crashes, arrests and citations as last year.
The 80th annual rally started on Friday, with a prediction of only 250,000 visitors because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Police say they were been about as busy as usual early on with 26 DUI arrests – 2 more than last year – 41 miscellaneous drug arrests – up 10 – and 17 felony drug arrests – down 6. There were 18 crashes, 2 fewer than last year, but 12 resulted in injury – 3 more than for the same period a year ago.
Meanwhile, Sturgis officials said at the first Rally daily briefing on Saturday that the makeup of this year’s attendees is different from those in the past with the riders a bit younger and more of them visiting from states farther away.
City Manager Daniel Ainslie said that based on what he and others have heard, many of the riders came because they’re looking for freedom and escape after months at or close to home because of the pandemic. Ainsley said several reported just being thankful to be in the Black Hills.
Director of Rally Events Jerry Cole says there seemed to be more motorcycles out on the roads that usual and he thinks it may be the result of COVID-19 concerns, explaining people may be riding longer and spending less time at the campgrounds.
The campgrounds themselves have been urging their guests to stay in their family pods, then go riding in the day and enjoy it.
Some states are requiring Rally participants to quarantine when they get home unless they have a negative COVID test result. To meet that demand, a national vendor has set up sites for rapid result COVID testing. Sturgis has designated quarantine areas for those testing positive.