SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Based on reservations for lodging and other factors, attendance for the 2022 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is “looking like a good year,” said the city’s rally and events director Tammy Even-Cordell.
The 2021 rally drew an estimated 555,000 people throughout the 10 days. That doesn’t mean there were 555,000 people on site each day but that 555,000 people attended the rally.
It’s been city policy not to estimate each year’s crowd before the rally happens. Even-Cordell, the new director, maintained that policy.
She did say that with many border travel restrictions being lifted this year, the rally should get more guests from Canada, Australia and Europe.
Attendees from countries outside the U.S. ranked in the top 10 of origins for rally attendees each year from 2017 to 2019, according to the city of Sturgis’ 2021 rally report. The report did not include data from 2020 because it limited direct contact surveys that year because of COVID. Not enough data was compiled for comparison.
The estimated crowd of 555,000 was the largest since the estimated 750,000 in the 75th anniversary year of 2015.
Sturgis estimates the attendance using tons of garbage hauled each year, evaluation of photo grids and traffic count numbers from the South Dakota Department of Transportation.
S.D. DOT counted an estimated 525,768 vehicles in 2021. The entering vehicles are counted.
The first two-to-four days of the rally can indicate just how big the crowd will be.
In 2020, the highest traffic count was 56,972 on Monday, Aug. 10.
The largest traffic count in 2021 was 67,482 on Saturday, Aug. 7.
Back to Monday for the highest daily count in 2019 at 61,126.
The 2015 75th Anniversary year had the highest traffic and attendance counts in history. It’s a measuring stick for rally attendance.
Even with the strong numbers posted in 2021, the first three days of the rally drew 13.2% fewer on Friday, Aug. 6, 18% fewer on Saturday, 27.2% fewer on Sunday and 33.5% fewer on Monday compared to the 2015 rally traffic counts.
The 2015 rally drew 96,409 vehicles on Monday the fourth day of the rally. The Wednesday count was 91,517.
The lowest traffic count days are usually the final weekend of the rally such as the 21,381 that entered on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021.
The 2021 daily traffic counts were all higher than in 2020. Overall, the traffic increased by 13.8% over 2020.
The rally runs from Friday, Aug. 5 through Sunday, Aug. 14. The opening ceremonies are at 12:30 p.m. MT in Sturgis.