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Sturgis, South Dakota—Home of the Motorcycle Rally


While in the area visiting Mount Rushmore National Monument and Crazy Horse Memorial in June of 2015, we decided to check out the interesting city of Sturgis. It was founded in 1878 and was originally named Scooptown. It was named this because many of the residents "scooped up" their pay from nearby Fort Meade. Its name was later changed to Sturgis in honor of the Civil War Union General Samuel D. Sturgis. Today that is approximately 6,800 residents.  

Sturgis Harley Davidson Store

For those of you who may not know, Sturgis is the location of one of the largest annual motorcycle events in the world, which is held annually on the first full week of August. Like I said we were there in June so there wasn’t too much going on, but it is going to be crazy this year.

They were gearing up for the 75thAnnual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally when we visited and were told they expected over a million people that week. This year is the 83rd Annual! Crazy, but they think it will be a lot of fun too. I guess they have a lot of activities. Check the link above for events, lodging, etc.

Sturgis - Harley Davidson BikeOf course we had to stop at the  Haley Davidson Store  and shop around, and take our picture in front of the store. There is even a spot dedicated for picture taking. There were several bikers around taking pictures too. It was a nice day and I really couldn’t help but think how nice it would have been to just jump on the back of a bike and hit the road. Of course, we didn’t have a bike, but it was fun talking to them about the bikes Gene use to have and what he used to ride.  I can definitely see the appeal.

Sturgis - Hot LeatherI still wanted to do a little more shopping, so we walked across the street to a little store called Hot Leathers Trading Post. The place smelled wonderful. I love the smell of leather and it hits you immediately as you walk in. I could have stayed in there for hours, lol  We eventually left, but not before I ended up buying a 75th Anniversary refrigerator magnet. Thought it was a cool thing to get to remember our trip and their anniversary.

Sturgis - Knuckle BreweryWe drove around a little while then decided to have a quick lunch and beer at a local bar or brewery. We ended up at The Knucke Brewing Company and had a great meal. I loved my Brick Personal Flatbread and Gene really enjoyed his Meatball Sub. Of course we had to try some local brew. I don’t like beers with a lot of hops so I had the Va’Knockers Blonde, and it was pretty good. Gene is the exact opposite and loves IPA’s. He had the Pipe Welder Porter and enjoyed his too.

Sturgis - BikesA little later we did a little more driving around but decided to head onto Historic Deadwood City. It was a wonderful day. I am so glad we were able to finally get to see Sturgis. Gene had been wanting to go ever since I knew him. It was great to be able to get there and experience it with him. If you are headed to the rally, have a great time and bring a lot of patience, lol. I know my cousin Terry will be there. Have fun Terry! Think of us. Here is a link to their website with more information about the rally.

Sturgis - Harley Davidson Bike 2I also wanted to share some information about the city and the rally.

  • 1936: Clarence "Pappy" Hoel purchased an Indian Motorcycle Franchise in Sturgis, SD. The Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club was formed.
  • 1938: The Rally Begins The first Sturgis Rally, known as the Black Hills Classic was held on August 14th with a race of 9 participants and a small audience.
  • 1942: Due to gas rationing in support of the war efforts the Rally did not take place from 1939-to 1941. 1942 was the return year of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
  • 1949: For the 1st time, Sturgis Main Street is blocked off for a 2 hour awards ceremony.
  • 1961: The Jackpine Gypsies introduce the Hill Climb and Motocross races.
  • 1964: One block of Main Street is officially closed for motorcycle parking over the course of the 3-day event.
  • 1965: The Rally moves to a 5-day event.
  • 1974: The first temporary vendor set up in the Sturgis Auditorium.
  • 1975: The Rally evolves to a 7-day event.
  • 1979: The City of Sturgis begins licensing temporary vendors. 9 vendors licensed.
  • 1983: City Park is closed to camping due to fire outbreaks.
  • 1986: Local man, Tom Monahan, donates the artwork of the Official Rally Logo to the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce.
  • 1988: 117 vendors licensed in the City of Sturgis.
  • 1989: Sturgis Rally Founder, Pappy Hoel passes away at the age of 85.
  • 2000: The Sturgis Rally saw the largest attendance exceeding as high as 600,000 people.
  • 2002: The City of Sturgis formed a city department within the city government to take the place of all prior contract labor hired to promote and organize the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
  • 2010: 70th Annual City of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with 466,769 in attendance!
  • 2012: Attendance of 445,700 with participants from all 50 states as well as Canada and dozens of other international communities including Japan, Australia, Germany, England, etc.
  • 2015: The City of Sturgis is proud to have celebrated the 75th annual event with a record attendance of an amazing 750,000+ participants spanning over a 10 day period.
  • 2016: The City of Sturgis expands the City of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to 10 days
  • 2020: 80th Anniversary held during a viral pandemic


Images (8)
  • Sturgis - Bikes
  • Sturgis - Harley Davidson Bike
  • Sturgis - Hot Leather
  • Sturgis - Knuckle Brewery
  • Sturgis - Map
  • Sturgis Harley Davidson Store
  • Sturgis Hill
  • Sturgis - Harley Davidson Bike 2

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