2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Rides Down Street on Horseback with American Flag

by John Jamison

The 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has seen its fair share of ups and downs. As the rally winds down, the roughly 700,000 people who traveled to the Black Hills of South Dakota are heading home. But not before being met with one of the more memorable sights of the entire event. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem took the streets recently.

Not on a bike, but on horseback. If that wasn’t enough, she brandished Old Glory proudly, with a hat and clothes to match.

The Republican governor has been making herself visible over the past few weeks of the 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. But it’s only appropriate, considering the significance and sheer size of the event taking place in her state. Whether or not holding the event itself was appropriate has been fodder for debate over the past few weeks.

With COVID-19 cases rising due to a surge of the delta variant, the event has been criticized. People have raised questions about the responsibility of having hundreds of thousands so close to each other for an extended period of time. Noem, however, a potential candidate for president in the 2024 election, has been taking criticism on the chin. She likened the risks associated with the pandemic to the very same risks bikers take every time they hop onto a motorcycle.

Regardless, the 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally will have brought hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the area. For reference, the 2014 rally brought in close to a billion, per The Los Angeles Times.

Kristi Noem Has Taken a Hands Off Approach to the 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Speaking of risks, the crowd at the 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is intimately familiar. Inevitably, the event sees motorcycle-induced fatalities every year. It’s an unfortunate reality of having that many enthusiasts concentrated in one area—the occasional crash will occur.

Yet, visitors to the rally are undeterred. Clearly, the imminent dangers that have existed at the event for all 81 years of its existence aren’t enough to keep people away. That being the case, Kristi Noem evidently wasn’t willing to try on account of the pandemic.

“As South Dakota’s governor, I have remained within the bounds of my authority and empowered citizens and businesses to make decisions for themselves. Rather than mandating they do as I say, I have chosen to let people take personal responsibility for decisions,” Noem wrote in an op-ed for Fox News.

These are the kinds of decisions governors and politicians, in general, have been faced with over the past year and a half. Easy as it’d be to point to a single policy for everyone to adhere to, the reality is far more nuanced. Needs and wants differ from state to state. And South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has made her opinion clear.