STURGIS, S.D. (AP) – The 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally starts Friday with officials predicting attendance to be down by a third to half, but with over 250,000 visitors still expected despite a growing number of coronavirus cases.
Even the smaller crowd could still make the Rally the biggest event anywhere in the United States and possibly the world since the pandemic reached the U-S in March.
It offers businesses a chance to make up losses from the downturn in tourism spending caused by the pandemic, but many of the roughly 7,000 Sturgis residents are leery about the brimming bars and bacchanalia coming their way and say it shouldn’t go on during a pandemic.
The number of vendors is down 30% from last year, but the number of new vendors is up. City Manager Daniel Ainslie says it’s the largest increase in new vendors Sturgis has ever seen and they include both locals and people from across the nation.