STURGIS, SD (KELO) – City of Sturgis officials are hearing that participation in the 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally could reach record 75th anniversary levels in 2015.
Christina Steele, public information officer for the town of Sturgis and the rally, said officials had heard that the number of rallies could reach the 2015 level of more than 700,000 participants.
The city is occupied just days before the August 5-14 rally.
âWe are already busy. We welcome suppliers; the city is packed right now, âSteele said on July 20. âIt has been a very busy summer. “
The rally ended 2020 with an attendance of around 462,182 during the coronavirus pandemic. The ridership figure is based on South Dakota Department of Transportation traffic counts at locations in and around Sturgis. Steele said DOT traffic counts are good indicators of attendance.
The city also uses other sources, including vendor licenses issued to Sturgis, measuring tons of trash during the rally and other sources to help determine attendance as well, Steele said.
The 2020 traffic count attendance was 7.5% lower than the 2019 attendance of 499,654.
SD DOT traffic figures show a record attendance of 747,032 in 2015.
Although the rally officially increased to 10 days instead of seven days in 2017, SD DOT has been tracking attendance for 10 days since 2011. The 10 days previously included a day or two before or after the official end of the rally. Now the number of 10 days includes official rally days.
SD DOT figures show that the first Sunday of the 10-day rally is one of the busiest days. For example, in 2015 the number was 90,304 on the first Sunday. The second highest number on the first Sunday was 69,888 in 2014.
From 2011 to 2019, the average daily total for the first Sunday was 60,345. The Monday average for nine-year-olds is 70,554. The highest daily total for any year from 2011 to 2020 was Wednesday in 2015 with 96,409.
Even during a pandemic, the rally attendance in 2020 was more than double the estimated Sioux Falls population in 2020 at 195,850.
If the rally reaches 750,000 spectators, that would equate to 85% of the state’s estimated population of 884,659 in 2019.
Attendance each year since 2010 represents about half of the state’s estimated population in 2019.
The annual rally attendance is more than 60 times the estimated 2019 population of Sturgis 6,922. The city has 5.7 square miles.
Motorcycles line the streets and blocks of Sturgis during the rally, but the US Census Bureau says Sturgis has motorcycles even when the rally is not taking place. According to the 2013 Census Bureau American Community Survey, 4.1% of Sturgis residents aged 16 and over reported commuting to work by motorbike, taxi, or other means.
A 2018 market study by the South Dakota Department of Tourism shows that rally participants are from all 50 states.
The origins of most rally participants have some similarities with the origins of general tourist visitors to the state.
Many visitors to South Dakota come from Minnesota. Twelve percent of those coming from states outside of South Dakota are from Minnesota, according to the 2019 rally report. Visitors from Colorado, Nebraska and California follow in that order.
A report from the South Dakota Department of Tourism shows Minnesota is one of the top states for rally arrivals, followed by North Dakota and Colorado. Thus, some rally participants may not travel directly from their home state to South Dakota.
Outside of South Dakota, most tourists to the state come from Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming and Iowa, according to South Dakota Tourism.
In 2018, around 35% of rally participants said they had stayed in the Sturgis area for six days or more. This is an increase from 2017 and 2018. Most participants stayed four or more days from 2017 to 2019.
This contrasts sharply with the majority of visitors (52%) to South Dakota who took a non-overnight day trip to South Dakota from 2016 to 2018, according to South Dakota Tourism. Leisure travelers who stayed there did so on average 2.13 days from 2012 to 2014. The average duration fell below two days from 2014 to 2.03 from 2016 to 2018.