SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Traffic counts continue to improve with the improved weather at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Thursday’s count was 52,195, which is higher than the 2022 count of 44,246 and up 3.7% five year average for that rally day.
The Wednesday vehicle count was also higher than the count in 2022.
The South Dakota Department of Transportation counts vehicles at nine entry points during the rally. The vehicle counts are used by the city of Sturgis to estimate the rally attendance. The city also use analysis of photos, the volume of garbage and other factors to estimate the crowd.
The rally count for Wednesday was 56,444, which is an increase from 54,599 on the same rally day in 2022.
The DOT said the Wednesday count was down 1.4% from the five-year average.
The seven-day total for 2023 is 359,338. The total in 2022 was 399,231.
The garbage volume also indicates attendance is down this year. The city of Sturgis reported 27.52 tons of garbage for Wednesday, Aug. 9. Last year, 42.42 tons of garbage were reported. Still, as numbers picked up mid-week, so did the garbage. There were 39.72 tons of garbage reported on Thursday compared to 35.43 in 2022.
The rally runs through Sunday, Aug. 13.
Sunny to mostly sunny skies were in the forecast for the remainder of the rally as of Friday, Aug. 10. But the rain in the early days could mean the 2023 attendance will be the lowest since 2016. If the rally numbers reach five-day averages from Thursday through Sunday, the total vehicle count would be 459,091. Depending on the source, the rally total was 463,000 or 448,000 in 2016.