On My Way To The 2012 Sturgis Rally. The Largest Of The Recession Years?

What to expect from this rally 72nd edition? Even before arriving in Sturgis, I can tell you that all my indicators point to a much bigger event than last year. It seems in the range of 15 to 20% regarding the number of people attending and vendors participating. 2 months ago, reservations in campgrounds and hotels were sharply up with bikers making reservations much sooner than during the 5 last years. A vert large number of hotels are sold out during the next 10 days. Number of vendor permits applied at the City of Sturgis is also up 20%. The Rally doesn’t officially start until Monday, but my industry friends already on location tell me that downtown Sturgis is already packed. The number of press releases I received this year regarding exhibitions, events, concerts, appearances, bike shows, invitation to professional parties, etc is way above the volume received in 2011. Yes, this has been a long, drawn-out recovery; and for most people alive today, it’s the longest they’ve had to conserve financially.  But some “Frugality fatigue” is driving a rise in retail sales among consumers who’ve grown tired of putting off vacation and some discretionary purchases.

As their prospects improve and as Americans have “learned to live with less, some pent- up demand is being released. And for bikers, the Sturgis Rally is extremely appealing, for its vacation atmosphere, scenery and multiple options for lodging, quality riding, etc. When will be reading this, I will be flying the blue skies between Florida & South Dakota. So, you know that starting tomorrow I will do as much as I can to report daily on the main events and happenings of this 2012 Black Hills Rally. Talk to you soon from Sturgis. (please, American Airlines, don’t lose again my luggages)

14 Responses to “On My Way To The 2012 Sturgis Rally. The Largest Of The Recession Years?”

  1. 1 doc Aug 4th, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Not feelin’ it. Been here 23 years and this year campground in Deadwood is 2/3 full on Sat of rally.

  2. 2 cigarman Aug 4th, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Cyril, Thanks for the straight scoop!

  3. 3 Rodent Aug 4th, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Great Lawn: A Bubble of History Bursts

    Here is an official history of attendance at great public gatherings in Central Park: James Taylor played in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow in the summer of 1979, and officials announced that 250,000 people came. A year later, Elton John performed on the Great Lawn, and the authorities said he drew 300,000 people. Then Simon and Garfunkel performed in September 1981, and city officials and organizers reported that 400,000 people had packed into the park. Ten years later, it was announced that Paul Simon drew 600,000. The biggest concert of all, it seems, was by Garth Brooks, on Aug. 7, 1997, at the North Meadow, with a reported attendance of 750,000 people.
    That march of history has come to a screeching halt.
    Ten days ago, Bon Jovi played on the Great Lawn, and the city’s official head count came to 48,538 people — a number tallied by parks workers with clickers at the entryways to the lawn. This total includes only the people admitted to the 13-acre oval that makes up the Great Lawn, and not any of those gathered in the walkways and swaths of ground to the east and west of the lawn.
    Still, the Bon Jovi crowd was a fraction of the colossal throngs that are part of the city’s collective mythic memory. If fewer than 50,000 people were able to fill the oval, how could a half million more people get anywhere near the Paul Simon concert held in the same space?
    The answer, city officials say, is that they didn’t.
    “You look out at the sea of people from the stage, and your mind tells you, ‘That’s what hundreds of thousands of people looks like,’ ” Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, said. “Now we know it’s 48,500.”
    This is the sound of the hot air balloon of history being popped. It is no accident. For the last four years, the city has been struggling to defend a decision to deny permits to two antiwar groups that sought to hold a rally of 75,000 people in Central Park around the time of the 2004 Republican National Convention.
    The city argued that the big crowds would damage the Great Lawn, which was restored in 1998 at a cost of $13 million. The groups argued that the city had permitted concerts and a papal Mass to be held on the lawn, and sued, claiming they had been excluded because of their political views.
    In January, the city settled the suit by paying $50,000 to the groups and an additional $500,000 in legal fees, and agreed to hire a panel of experts who would advise the commissioner on the use of the Great Lawn by crowds.
    “It’s the single location in Manhattan that can function as an appropriate site for mass activity, either political rallies or concerts,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a lawyer for the Partnership for Civil Justice, which brought the legal challenge to the city’s decision not to issue a permit. “They want to end that as a venue for mass political actions. It’s an historic location, where hundreds of thousands of people gathered.”
    Mr. Benepe said that was not true, and that the precise counts show that the old numbers simply were in the realm of fantasy. “The truth is that those historical crowds, you couldn’t accommodate that many people if you crammed them into every open space in Central Park — Great Lawn, North Meadow, Sheep Meadow,” he said.

  4. 4 Steve Carr Aug 4th, 2012 at 8:34 pm


    Maybe I’m Slow, or just pure brain dead, But I can’t seem to get my mind around the point you are trying to make here…….

    Steve Carr

  5. 5 1550tc Aug 4th, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Feels busier so who knows …badlands and vanicker were not busy today

  6. 6 Ray Aug 5th, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Cyril may be right. But it seems more people in venues and campgrounds spread further from Sturgis.

  7. 7 izadore007 Aug 5th, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Rodent, it goes to show you that the Bikers from the Back Woods and Mountains would rather hear Country. They need a more Sofistimcater crowds in Sturgis. Rolex Riders all go to Sturgis TWICE, First and Last. Its hard to go first class to Sturgis, except if you have a Prevost. Riders with Class that want good Food and great Lodging go to Daytona..The Shit Kickers all Like Garth Brooks……

  8. 8 Rodent Aug 5th, 2012 at 9:31 am

    It’s a story on attendance figures released, the difference between imaginary and actual attendance figures. Cyril’s article states rally will be 15-20% larger, larger than what, actual or imaginary counts?
    I’ve always disputed the inflated counts put out by South Daota in order to perpetuate their claim of largest rally in the world. I will give them that they are the largest rally in South Dakota in August.

  9. 9 ROGUE Aug 5th, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Rode in from Florida and got here Friday. Went to see Charlie Bretchel at the Buffalo Chip.
    Last night was at the Broken Spoke – Both Good Times.
    Traffic heavy down town with a lot of motorhomes going east towards the Chip.

  10. 10 ROGUE Aug 5th, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Of course with large numbers they justify bringing it Lots Of Cops and YES they are Busy Stopping People.
    Another Large Source Of Income from those at the event

  11. 11 Jeff Aug 5th, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Rogue, I’m hearing it more and more (Lots of cops – doing they’re job, and then some….and then some more) No better way to drive attendance down for the following years…….jus one of the reasons me and my money (what little I do have) are at home in Alabama right now and not out there. Maybe one day we’ll go back……..or not. Daytona’s hell of alot closer anyways.

  12. 12 Mike Greenwald Aug 5th, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Greatest Show On Earth. Used to be a slogan for the circus. Seems like the sideshows are being run by the descendants. Oh, they are surely more respectable, nowadays. They have respectable government jobs or have bought their influence in the hall of fame. What does that cost nowadays? If y’all smell a rat, you’ve got a good nose for the vermin that have infested Sturgis.

  13. 13 Luci Aug 11th, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I lived in SD until I was 30 and 4 of those years I spent living in Sturgis. I bartended the rally to pay for college. Yes, I made that much money in one week. I have talked to other local friends and they say it is empty for rally. Yes, it looks very large and impressive to one who has never seen a booming rally, but the numbers have been steadily dropping for years. The fact that there were still hotel rooms available 2 months before rally started is sad. Those room used to be filled almost a year before the rally. It’s great that they filled up in 10 days, but it used to be that you couldn’t find a hotel room within 3 hours of Sturgis during rally. That problem no longer exists.

    They figure attendance using a formula that uses the DOTs traffic count, the number of vendor permits issued, the tons of garbage that is hauled away, Mount Rushmore traffic count, and DOR sales tax calculations. It is pretty accurate. I mean there is no way to go through and count each and every person who comes in for rally, these figures that they use are the best indicators of how many people were around.

    From everything I have seen and heard, including from several bar owners in downtown Sturgis, Deadwood, and even in Spearfish, it is slow. Even the noon day picture looks like a dead legendary downtown Sturgis. I keep looking at it and my first response is always, where are the people? I know where the people are, but it is still shocking to see.

    I’m glad to hear that the vendor licenses issued is up, as that is part of the attendance calculation, but I think that has more to do with people having gone into business for themselves for lack of jobs and not that the vendors are coming back. From what I have heard, there are a lot of new vendors that no one remembers seeing before.

    Hope everyone that went has fun and stays safe! 🙂

  14. 14 Luci Aug 11th, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Oh, and for the cops, most of them are employed from small towns of less than 300 people. They want to go home with the story that they busted Kid Rock, which they did, or took down a bunch of “vicious” Hells Angels or “dangerous” Banditos. Even thought the Banditos have a compound a few miles outside of Rapid City and the Hells Angels have a member that owns a bike shop in town and that is their home base, they aren’t known to these cops brought in for rally.

    Busting an average guy is not the story they want to go home with. You average guys are no where near the adrenaline rush and don’t make anywhere near as exciting a story as a gun fight or breaking up a large gang brawl. Sorry, but the average guy gets busted doing something stupid and the cops hate it because it is a distraction from the real action for them. The bike gangs and the celebrities. You aren’t in the same league. 😉

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Cyril Huze