Bringing a little of Lynchburg, Tennessee to Sturgis: Jack Daniels’ tent celebrates Military Appreciation Day

KELOLAND.com Original

STURGIS, S.D. (KELO) — Nestled in front of Lynn’s Dakotamart in downtown Sturgis, you can find a large Jack Daniels semi-truck trailer and the Jack Daniels tent.  

It’s a temporary home base for many of the thousands of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally attendees and it’s where Kevin Sanders, known as the “The Barrel Man,” shares stories with the crowds of people. 

“I’ve been coming for 11 years and it just gets better every time,” Sanders said. “I think this time is as big as ever. There’s a lot of people showing up.” 

Joining Sanders this year was Chad Belding, an Outdoor Channel host and avid waterfowl hunter, who was attending his first Sturgis Rally.  

“What’s blown my mind is how popular this man is,” Belding said, pointing to Sanders, who was wearing blue overalls with a Jack Daniels baseball hat. “This is a destination for so many people from across the country and the world to bring bikes and ride the hills around here. There’s such unbelievable aurora, swagger and culture here.” 

On Tuesday, Belding and Sanders were celebrating Military Appreciation Day at the Sturgis Rally. A flyover from Ellsworth Air Force Base was planned for the afternoon. 

Belding said he and Sanders met with three Vietnam Green Beret Veterans on Monday afternoon. Green Beret soldiers were a special force tasked with waging guerilla warfare behind enemy lines. 

“They were thanking him (Sanders) and thanking me for being here and we outta to be thanking you three gentlemen,” Belding said. “It’s just unbelieve the mutual respect back-and-forth between the soldiers, the bike riders, the rally and then guys like Kevin and everybody that represents the Jack Daniels’ brand.” 

Sanders agreed with Belding and said “it’s an honor to meet some of these fellows.” 

“They served our country and kept us safe,” Sanders said. 

Belding and Sanders highlighted the program Operation Ride Home, which is a program designed to assist junior-enlisted service members and those with families travel from their military bases to homes around the country. 

Operation Ride Home started in 2011 with Jack Daniels and the Armed Services YMCA. 

“Not just the actual Veteran or the Active Duty military member but to their families,” Belding said. 

“We’re raising Operation Ride Home all year long, not just here. In the last five years, we’ve raised about $2 million dollars,” said Sanders, who added donations can be accepted at the Jack Daniels tent in Sturgis and biker patches are offered. “It’s a super thing.”

The Jack Daniels tent is open until 6 p.m. each day with live music during the Sturgis Rally. Sanders said the right way to drink Jack Daniels is “anyway you like it.” 

He thanked everybody who has stopped by so far and thanked the city of Sturgis for hosting the annual motorcycle. 

“We want to bring a little bit of Lynchburg out here to Sturgis and spread that around,” Sanders said. “We want them to come to Lynchburg and make some great memories also.”

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