A city of about 7,000 in a rural region of western South Dakota is set to host what will likely be one of the largest gatherings the world has seen in months, as hundreds of thousands are expected to show up for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally even with coronavirus cases climbing in the state.
The 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally will go on this year, bringing an expected crowd of around 250,000.
South Dakota, which is one of the nation’s most sprawling and rural states, has largely avoided serious impacts from the coronavirus so far.
But cases are on the rise, with last Wednesday’s 149 new cases the highest reported since May 9.
The state is home to several large Native American reservations, and the virus has taken a heavy toll on many reservations where it has spread.
South Dakota doesn’t have a mask mandate, and is one of only two states that don’t have any known government mask-wearing requirements in any circumstance, according to masks4all.co, which tracks mask-wearing requirements and advocates for mandates.
Sturgis’ economy relies tremendously on visitors coming for the rally, with the event alone providing much of the annual income for area campgrounds and vacation rentals; the city even has its own “Rally & Events Department.”There was debate about whether there should be a rally this year, but city officials ultimately decided the event would go on, after pressure from the business community. City-hosted events have been canceled, though, and the city has cut advertising for the rally.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR AT THE STURGIS MOTORCYCLE RALLY
Around 250,000 people are expected, but there’s no telling how many people will actually show up for the 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
“It’s the biggest single event that’s going on in the United States that didn’t get canceled,” Rod Woodruff, a local business owner, told the Associated Press. “A lot of people think it’s going to be bigger than ever.”
60% — A survey found that’s the share of Sturgis residents who wanted to see the rally postponed.
The rally traces its roots back to 1938, when nine motorcyclists held a race known as the “Black Hills Classic.” That grew tremendously over the years, becoming a five-day long rally in 1965, expanding to seven days in 1975 and 10 days in 2016. The record crowd of up to 600,000 was set in 2000, according to the rally’s website.
Six more die of the coronavirus in South Dakota, 149 more cases reported (Sioux Falls Argus Leader)
Annual Sturgis rally expecting 250K, stirring virus concerns (Associated Press)
Article Retrieved from Forbes.