STURGIS, S.D. (KELO) — We are just days away from this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which officially runs from Friday, August 5 through Sunday, August 14. Not only are bikers getting ready to set out on their road trips, but towns in the Black Hills are preparing for the influx of visitors, especially local law enforcement.
Tents are starting to go up, businesses are getting ready and even law enforcement is preparing for the 82nd annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
As one of South Dakota’s largest events, the rally brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the country.
“When you take a town of 7,000 and put a couple hundred thousand, anywhere from 200,000 to 700,000 in here, it’s packed and it’s busy,” Chief Geody Vandewater said.
Each year, the Sturgis Police Department brings in more officers. Vandewater says he hires enough officers to be the third largest department in South Dakota during rally week.
“We hire up until the day it starts. Every year, it’s the same thing. Whether you are in law enforcement or you’re in fast food, everybody seems to be struggling. But we are doing our due diligence to hire officers as well as security staff and we will be sitting good by the time rally starts and be able to keep everybody safe,” Chief Vandewater said.
And it’s not just Sturgis. Towns across the Black Hills are also preparing for more bikes on the roads.
“For folks that do live here, we do have temporary stop lights and traffic control devices in certain areas of the hills. Always look twice and take away your distractions. Listen for the bikes, slow down, take your time so that we can have a safe rally,” Lt. Chris Hislip with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office said.
Both the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and the Sturgis Police urge everyone to not only drive safe over the next couple weeks but also never drive drunk.
The Sturgis Police Department says that the biggest problem in town last year during rally week was parking.
Officers ask that people pay attention to road signs and park accordingly.