STURGIS, S.D. (KELO) — The 81st Sturgis Motorcycle Rally starts Friday and runs through Aug. 15.
According to the Sturgis Rally, the annual gathering of motorcycle fans started in 1938 when Clarence “Pappy” Hoel hosted a race in Sturgis. In 1949, Sturgis Main Street was blocked off for a two-hour awards ceremony and, in 1964, one block would officially close for motorcycle parking for a three-day event.
The Sturgis Rally grew into a five-day event in 1965 and a seven-day event in 1975. Nine temporary vendors were licensed by the city of Sturgis in 1979 and it grew to 117 vendors by 1988. In 1989, Pappy Hoel died at age 85.
2000 saw the largest attendance at 600,000 people. In 2002, the city of Sturgis formed a city department to help organize and promote the event. In 2015, the rally celebrated 75 years with more than 750,000 people visiting over 10 days.
In 2020, the Sturgis Rally celebrated its 80th anniversary during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can see photos from the KELOLAND News archive in the slideshow below.
Stay with KELOLAND News online and on-air for more coverage of the 2021 Sturgis Rally.