Sturgis Rally organizers say annual event is on 'rain or shine'

Raymond native Alan Tenhet stops on his bike on Main Street in Sturgis ahead of the beginning of the 2018 Rally, which kicks off today.

Ryan Phillips
SDN Editor

Some light rain may be in the forecast for the weekend, but that won’t be near enough to put a damper on the 2018 Rally in Sturgis.

The annual all-motorcycle event officially opens today and event organizers are hoping roughly 10,000 people descend on the small town to enjoy food, fun, music and most of all, motorcycles.

“We’re full blast rain or shine,” Sturgis Mayor Billy Blankenship said of the chance of rain through the weekend. “We’ve got scattered showers and it sprinkled here a time or two, but nothing’s going to cancel anything.”

Some of the changes to this year’s installment of the Rally, which coincides with the big Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, will come in the form of a new end location for the Dinner Ride and a re-tooled slate of competitions, namely a motorcycle sound contest.

“I’m getting excited to see and hear the sound competition,” said Rally Board President Donald Hanson. “This is the first year we’ve had it. Last year we didn’t have a bike show at all.”

Hanson said the Shriner’s Club will sponsor both the sound competition and Bike Show during the 2018 Rally.

“They’re telling me we’ve got over 15 bikes that are coming to enter into the sound competition that they know of so far,” he said. “The way they are talking to me about it, these people have got a lot of money invested in their bikes and their sound systems. It’s going to be awesome to see that.”

The biggest change for the 2018 Dinner Ride will be in the end location after it weaves through downtown Starkville, which was at Village Cycle Center in years past, but will be in Starkville’s Fire Station Park and catered by The Little Dooey.

In the last two years since the Rally was resurrected after a brief hiatus, Hanson said they have averaged roughly 150 bikes during the last two Dinner Rides.

“They show up and line up and we get a count as they are leaving town,” he said. “We’re hoping we have more than that this year.”

In addition to the droves of bikes and campers coming into the town, 16 vendors had already registered with the town clerk as of Thursday afternoon and more are expected once the event kicks off.

While vendors play an important role in drawing people to the Rally, organizers have stressed the importance of buying $20 armbands to get into the City Park, the proceeds from which fund the Rally Board and the event itself.

“The more armbands we sell, the bigger we can make the Rally, the more enjoyable can make the rally,” Hanson commented. “Armband sales are what pays our bills. Even if you’re just coming to enjoy the vendors, just remember we have trash services we have to pay for, port-a-John’s for the public to use that we have to pay for, clean up in the town and all the other expenses that go along with the Rally.”

Hanson said white tents will be set up selling armbands on Main Street and at the gate coming into the City Park. Armbands will be required to enter the park for everyone over the age of 12.

Blakenship said a concession stand will also be open in the park during the afternoons and at night to provide snacks for those attending.

He then thanked the city of Starkville for providing in-kind services in the form of dumpsters for the Rally Board to use in the City Park.

Over off of Main Street, Jerry Bean sat inside the building for EasyStreet Solutions as his 1995 Harley Davidson Road King sat out front. He bought the bike in St. Louis in 2001 and has helped put over 100,000 miles on it.

Sturgis first became attractive to him when he rode through during the 2014 Rally in the first year it was started back up.

“I saw this building and said ‘That’s a waste to have that old building closed up,’” Bean said sitting behind the counter in his air-conditioned shop.

Bean said he will open up his business to both a leather vendor and a T-shirt and glassware vendor, all while offering a brief escape from the August heat.

“I’m just glad the people are having it,” he said. “It brings a lot of people in. Sturgis is a small town and like many small towns across the United States, small towns are dying and anything they can do to revitalize them and bring them back to life is great, and this Rally helps everybody in town quite a bit.”