24 August 2023

It's August, so it Must Be Sturgis

And so it was.

First, STATISTICS!!!!!  

Total attendees were 458,161, the lowest in a long time.
In total, 1,479 citations were issued this year, up from 2022′s 1,430.
Drug arrests saw the biggest jump, with 155 felony drug arrests made compared to 103 in 2022. Misdemeanor drug arrests also rose to 246 compared to 148 in 2022.
The number of DUI arrests totaled 120, down from last year’s 148. The number of citations issued also went down to 4,296 from 5,288 in 2022.
There were a total of 127 accidents this year, 64 were injury accidents and five were fatal. Last year’s rally saw a total of 98 accidents with three total fatalities. (Link)

A few notes on the statistics:
Everyone knows that you have to be particularly obnoxious / dangerous to get a DUI at Sturgis.  All those folks at the Buffalo Chip, drunk and stoned out of their gourds, aren't going to get DUIs, because they're not going anywhere - they're going to pass out where they are.  

The death total is for those actually at the Rally, not on the drive there or the drive home or driving around the Black Hills.  Official reports are 12 people dying in motorcycle crashes.  Many of them were older, such as the 66-year-old woman and her 78 year old husband, riding on a Harley trike that for some reason left the road, went into a ditch, and went airborne. She was thrown from the trike, he was not.  Neither were wearing helmets. Both died. They were not included in the Rally toll.  

NOTE to future Rally attendees:  After a certain age, if you go flying off a motorcycle, you will find that you no longer bounce, and you might no longer breathe.  Please, WEAR A HELMET!!!

Also, five South Dakota men were arrested for sex trafficking at 2023's Sturgis rally. (LINK)

But as Tom Lawrence said, "So several bikers don’t make it home alive. So some kids are exploited by weirdos looking for kinky kicks. So the hospitals and other health-care centers are jammed with the casualties of the 'Best Party Anywhere."  The important thing is that Sturgis brings in $45 million in state and local tax revenue.  (LINK)  

Meanwhile, our Governor wrote an... interesting op-ed on "I didn’t think I’d find so much Jesus at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. He’s everywhere all the time, but I didn’t expect to feel his presence at a pancake breakfast at the Buffalo Chip. He was clearly there when the Sons of Light Ministry graciously hosted hundreds of guests, including myself and Lawrence Jones from Fox and Friends. The Sons of Light witnessed by serving a free breakfast to all who came, sharing songs of praise, and just joining in fellowship." (LINK)  

Sarcastic hilarity was the general response.  STURGIS?  Family friendly revival STURGIS?  No.  No.  No.  People don't go to Sturgis for that.  They go for the sex, drugs, and rock n' roll and/or kicking country music.  And some great scenery to enjoy while nursing the hangover.  The same reason my generation went to three day music concerts out in the desert, mountains, wherever.  

So if you believed the governor's hype, don't worry. In fact, Harley-Davison's own insurance division says Sturgis is not really a family event:

Sturgis isn’t kid-friendly, but it can be if you want it to be.
For a family-friendly version of the Rally, you’ll want to avoid nighttime activities when things tend to get wild. You’ll also want to avoid hotels that host many attendees because rally-goers frequently like to party late into the night. Even a campground with many motorcycles can keep you and your kids up if there’s revving late into the night [Harley-Davidson Insurance, “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 2023 Guide,” 2023.05.22].

Sturgis is, and has always been, the motorcycle version of Vegas in the old days, when "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."  

Our temporary denizens are clad in skull caps, sunglasses, boots, sleeveless shirts, and black leather. Tattoos are required; piercings are optional. Body paint, thongs, and pasties will do for women. For men, cleanliness is not a virtue; grimy grubbiness is fine and chest hair encouraged. Don’t come to Sturgis looking for metrosexuals—you won’t find any.

The streets are teeming with beautiful, scantily dressed women, but the real beauties are the motorcycles, their chrome sparkling in the sun as though they had just left the showroom floor. Few things you will ever see are as impressive as thousands of custom-painted Harley Davidsons parked four rows deep and lined up for blocks, many of them true works of art. Few things you will encounter can compare to the noise made by an undulating river of 700-pound motorcycles. Hunter S. Thompson described it as “a burst of dirty thunder.” (LINK)

And then there are the t-shirts, like “I’m here to drink and f—, and I’m about done drinking” that people wear proudly.  
Or the Snake Lady, who wears nothing but snakes.  Seriously.
Also, overheard at the rally by someone (not me, I never go):

Sturgis Biker One: “Dude! Welcome back! I heard ya got married.”
Sturgis Biker Two: “Yeah, man, it was like something to do.”
Sturgis Biker One: “How’s the sex, man?”
Sturgis Biker Two: “Not so good, but at least I don’t gonna stand in line.”

(Link - read the comments)

But then again, none of that might not bother some people.  Give the kids the full experience and all that.  For example, the fans of WEE 1 Tactical, which has just put out the JR-15 assault rifle for CHILDREN, 'just like dad's gun'.  The JR-15 is modeled on the AR-15 assault rifle, but is 20% smaller and weighs just 2.3lbs, with a lighter trigger, and real ammunition. (LINK)  For those with a strong stomach, you can listen to WEE 1 Tactical's owner Eric Schmid praise the JR-15 here.  Start 'em at 3, folks:

It takes all kinds, but I'd like fewer of some of them.  


  1. Eve, I worked Sturgis for several years. It's too bad your Governor wasn't on scene when some Sons of Silence and and some Outlaws got into it with guns and knives in a Main Street bar and spilled over into the street just at the base of that tower where your 1st photo was shot. And I seriously doubt Jesus was there when several Hell's Angels surrounded two old grey-beard Bandidos in front of me and a Customs agent just outside a vendor's tent off of Main Street, taunted the Bandidos, then let them go and later knifed them two blocks away in a dark alley where there were no witnesses. I'm sure your Governor would have been severely disappointed in the actions of an old, clean shaven Hell's Angel in clean colors and white tennis shoes if she had been standing with me on Main Street when the HA braced an old man wearing the colors of a religious motorcycle club and told the man he better not be wearing any colors. (At the time, most 1% motorcycle gangs were eliminating non-1% clubs as a territorial thing.) There's plenty more incidents of violence, but these will do. It is not a kid friendly event.

    Good reporting on your part.

  2. O tempora! O mores!

  3. R.T., I've never been to Sturgis, but in my misspent youth in southern California, there was a turf war between the Hells Angels and the Axemen that spilled far outside of their "territory" and has soured me on bikers ever since. Definitely NOT a kid friendly event. But it makes a lot of money for this state, so let it rumble!

  4. When I read about these gatherings, I can't but think of Peggy and Hank Hill attending a rally. You might appreciate that episode (of King of the Hill).

    My friends Thrush and Steve worked on a web site for a local motorcycle shop that markets an invention of training wheels for motorcycles for those of an uncertain age. When rolling to a stop, the wheels automatically lower and rise again when accelerating. They're capable of reversing too.


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