Rally sees biggest day Saturday

STURGIS — Mayor Walter Turner had plenty to smile about as he watched all the activity around him on Saturday.
Usually, his town numbers around 280 in population. On Saturday, thousands of people had flooded into Sturgis as the activities for the 2010 Sturgis South Motorcycle Rally reached their peak.
“Everything has gone reasonably well,” said Turner. “We’ve had very few problems with anything.”
Every street in Sturgis could find bikers of all ages and motorcycles of every shape, color and size parked on them.
While traffic from the Rally was moderate Thursday and Friday,
Saturday was proving to be a great day, Turner said.
“We’ve definitely got the people here today, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather,” Turner said. “Of course, we’d like to be known for more than just the Rally, but when you’ve got an event that attracts national attention to your town, you can’t complain.”
The rumble and roar of motorcycle motors has been heard the past three days across Starkville and Oktibbeha County as the Rally progressed.
It was not uncommon to see bikers passing each other on Highway 12 or other major thoroughfare giving each other the low wave that is characteristic of regular riders.
The Rally story is one that’s familiar to many locally. What initially began in 1995 with motorcycle ride with 14 riders from Jackson to Sturgis led to the formal establishment of the Little Sturgis Inc. Rally in 1997.
That first year, the Rally saw 500 registered and more than 800 attending.
Subsequent years saw the Rally attendance increase dramatically, with thousands registering and crowds of 30,000 to 35,000 people attending the last few years, according to statistics provided by the Rally Board.
The event has attracted national headlining performers such Charlie Daniels, 38 Special, the Kentucky Headhunters, Merle Haggard, Brian Howe with Bad Company and Diamond Rio.
Billed as a family event, this year’s Rally lived up to that billing even more with a carnival midway, helicopter rides and a host of activities where parents could take their children.
As always, proceeds from the Rally go to charity, with this year’s beneficiaries being the Dixie Thunder Run and the Mississippi Military Emergency Relief Fund.
Several civic organizations also partnered with the Greater Starkville Development Partnership to help raised money for the Oktibbeha County Tuition Guarantee Program.
More than 50 volunteers from the CREATE Foundation, the GSDP, Junior Auxiliary, the Kiwanis Club, the Lions Club, the Pilot Club, the Rotary Club, SOAR (Starkville-Oktibbeha Achieving Results) and the Starkville Young Professionals were working a vendor tent selling stadium cups, visors, collapsible coolers, can huggies and cinch backpacks and ice to raise moeny for the Tuition Guarantee Program, hich will guarantee graduates from local high schools that they’ll have paid tuition to East Mississippi Community College provided they meet grade and eligibility requirements.
Clark Beverage Group, Fairway Ice, Squincher, Prudential Starkville Properties, the GSDP and SOAR helped sponsor the Tuition Guarantee Program tent at the Rally, which saw fairly heavy traffic on Saturday.
The 2010 Rally concludes this morning with the annual Blessing of the Bikes in front of Sturgis Baptist Church before the Rally participants head for home.