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July 30, 2014 06:31 AM

Sturgis Rally Fans Arriving Early

Sturgis, SD

At the Buffalo Chip, the early bird gets the view. But there's more than scenery at stake for those who arrive a week or two before the official start of the Sturgis motorcycle rally.

"I arrived last Wednesday," Florida biker James Bakalich said. "And I like to come out to the Chip early so I can see the whole thing unfold. How it comes together is amazing."

There's plenty to see, as vendors set up, the concert stage is prepared and the sound of camp arrivals builds toward a roar.

"I come in about a week and a half before the rally, so it's pretty much a cow pasture here. You can see the hay bales and the fence line," Rachel Richards, a Minneapolis native now living in Los Angeles, said. "So it's pretty chill right now. In a couple days, the campers are going to come rolling in nonstop."

Non-stop is the norm for Buffalo Chip President Rod Woodruff. Thousands will pack in to hear big-name music shows at night or cool off at a stock-dam-turned bikini beach during the day. First, though, old friendships are renewed.

"People that have been here before come back earlier and earlier because they met other people here. They made friends here and they kept in contact with them throughout the year and they're making plans to meet them here again," Woodruff said.

But just because they arrive early for the Sturgis rally doesn't mean they intend to leave early.

"I always like to be the first one in and the last one out," Bakalich says.

With a plan, of course, to do it all again next year.

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