SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There’s a four-letter word that’s likely impacting vehicle counts at this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. That word is rain.
“It’s the pouring rain,” rally and events director Tammy Even-Cordell said of the rally counts from the first four days.
The South Dakota Department of Transportation counts vehicles entering the rally at nine sites during the rally. The counts are used by the city of Sturgis, along with analysis of photos, garbage amounts and other factors to estimate the rally attendance. This year’s rally is from Aug. 4 – Aug. 13.
The count for Friday through Sunday trailed behind 2022 numbers and the five-year average. It rained in the Sturgis area during those first four days. Sunday’s weather was better than Friday or Saturday. The count did bounce back from a low of 38,126 on Saturday to 60,586 on Sunday and 50,487 on Monday.
“On nice days, the numbers are back,” Even-Cordell said.
Sunday’s tally was 4% higher than the five-year average but Monday’s tally was still down 17% from the five year average, 16.9% to be exact.
Deb Holland works in communications for the city of Sturgis. Before that, she was a news reporter who covered the rally for many years.
“This is a weird year,” Holland said. Rally attendees enter the city and the area and when the rain starts, there’s not much sign of them outdoors.
“Last night, they came back and it was a beautiful evening,” Holland said.
Even-Cordell said many attendees already in Sturgis parked their bikes during the rain and used shuttles and similar transportation.
“Even when it’s pouring down sheets of rain, they are still active,” Even-Cordell said. Everyone is still having a good time, she said.
The bikes and people may not be seen on the streets or outside but, “They’re inside,” Even-Cordell said. Attendees are inside at bars and other businesses, she said. They are active and patient. Even-Cordell said she talked with a group from Canada who waited two hours for a shuttle.
So far, the DOT has counted 194,851 vehicles which is about 37,000 vehicles behind the to date five-year average of 232,353 vehicles. It’s also behind 2022’s four-day total of 241,776.
Even-Cordell was encouraged that despite rain on Monday, the count was at least 50,000 vehicles.
As she talked on what she described as a “gorgeous day” on Tuesday, Even-Cordell was optimistic about the remainder of the rally.
“The rest of the rally will be great. We got forecasted sun,” she said.