Attendance at the 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is surging. And at the same time, DUI and drug arrests at the event are down from last year’s numbers.
By Wednesday, 57,675 more vehicles had joined the rally. That brought the 2021 total to 371,038, News Center 1 reports. That’s a 17.2% increase over last year’s attendance rate.
Meanwhile, DUI arrests have dropped by four compared to this point last year. Misdemeanor drug possessions have declined by 63 from last year. And felony drug possessions are down by 16 from this time last year.
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Attendees Making Some Lifestyle Changes
To the uninitiated, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally conjures images of hard-living bikers carousing for days. But as the numbers suggest, and as the Idaho State Journal notes, some of those bikers have been making some lifestyle changes.
According to State Journal columnist Mike Murphy, the Sturgis Grocery Mart’s manager has said that the bikers have been asking for organic products, suggesting a high level of health consciousness. And when it’s time for libations, some of the bikers have reportedly been switching to craft beers and seltzers.
Sturgis also features a golf tournament, which serves as a fundraiser for local first responders. And it now includes a 5K run, which is in its third year and which benefits a local charity (yet to be announced).
South Dakota Governor Defends Rally
Meanwhile, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is pushing back against concerns that the well-attended rally could turn into a superspreader event as the delta variant surges. In a Fox News op-ed, she took aim at “bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. and the media” who have criticized Sturgis. Noem also defended her own track record during 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,” she wrote. “Rather than mandating they do as I say, I have chosen to let people take personal responsibility for decisions.”
Noem’s op-ed follows comments by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci last Sunday on Meet the Press. On that show, Fauci voiced concerns that the rally could bring a spike in cases of COVID-19. Researchers have reportedly traced hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 cases to the 2020 rally.
“There comes a time when you’re dealing with a public health crisis that could involve you, your family and everybody else,” Fauci said. “That something supersedes that need to do exactly what you want to do.”
Fauci’s comments drew criticism after he was silent on other large, maskless gatherings like Lollapalooza and former President Barack Obama’s birthday party.