You are currently viewing That is what it seems like in Sturgis, South Dakota, the place tons of of hundreds of unmasked bikers are partying just like the coronavirus is not actual

That is what it seems like in Sturgis, South Dakota, the place tons of of hundreds of unmasked bikers are partying just like the coronavirus is not actual


A man wears a hat signed by Ted Nugent as he joins thousands of bikers during the 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, Aug. 10, 2020.

Jim Urquhart for Insider

The small city of Sturgis, South Dakota, welcomes more than 700,000 bikers each year for its annual motorcycle rally. 

This year, the 10-day event fell in the middle of a pandemic. While 60% of locals responded to a government survey indicating they didn’t want the event to take place, health and city officials believed there was no way to keep visitors out.

Instead of attempting to cancel the event, they prepared by organizing grocery delivery services for at-risk residents, establishing hand-washing stations, and giving away free masks to those who wanted them, City Manager Daniel Ainslie told Insider

The city canceled nearly all of its daily events in an effort to prevent the dense crowds that normally gather at them.

The hospital increased staffing among other extensive preparations, anticipating an increase in emergency room visits. By the time the rally started on August 7, the Meade County had only seen around 80 coronavirus cases. 

Mark Schulte, president of  the local Monument Health Sturgis Hospital, told Insider that if the event did turn out to cause a spike in cases, the providers were ready to offer care.

Outside of these efforts, Ainslie said the city’s hands were tied in terms of putting mask or social distancing mandates in place. Those requirements must be ordered by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

Noem, a Republican, has been vocally opposed to stay-at-home orders. As for masks, Noem discourages their use, even at schools which she has pushed to reopen. 

As thousands poured into Sturgis over its opening weekend, few donned face masks. 

Bars were packed and, for many, social distancing was not an apparent concern.

At the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, it is like the novel coronavirus — which has killed more than 744,000 people around the world — didn’t exist. 

Here are photos from this year’s event.

Every year up to three quarters of a million bikers ride through the scenic Black Hills to Sturgis, South Dakota, for its annual motorcycle rally.

Story continues

This year’s 80th anniversary event fell in the middle of a pandemic, but you might not be able to tell based on the crowds there alone.

Jim Urquhart for Insider

On their way, visitors might visit Bad Lands National Park, Mount Rushmore, or the nearby Native American reservations. This year, though, the Cheyenne River Tribe asked those traveling to Sturgis not to cross through the reservation in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, The Cheyenne River Tribe began operating checkpoints at the reservation borders in May.

Jim Urquhart

When they arrived in Sturgis, bikers and tourists packed bars and visited shops. They also participated in outdoor contests like bikini modeling, “Beers and Burps,” air sex events, cherry pie eating, and fake orgasm competitions.

Despite concerns of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of bikers and tourists flocked to bars and shops along the city’s main drag on Aug. 9, 2020.

Jim Urquhart

Many at the rally opted to go maskless, despite advice from local officials who hung signs around the small city.

Bikers greet each other on the city’s busy streets.

Jim Urquhart for Insider

With temperatures in the 90s, hanging out in the sun all day can make for sweaty leather.

The local hospital prepared for an uptick in emergency room visits from bikers — an aging demographic — who might experience heat exhaustion, cardiac issues, or strokes.

Jim Urquhart for Insider.

Some bikers at the rally said they enjoyed the freedom of coming together in groups, something that many states had prohibited over the last few months.

Up to 20 percent of locals will rent out their homes or yards to the annual visitors. This year, some opted out, the city manager said.

Jim Urquhart/

The city of Sturgis canceled the daily events it would have otherwise held in order to discourage crowding. It didn’t seem to help.

It’s not just humans who take in the sights at the Sturgis Rally.

Jim Urquhart for Business Insider

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally attracts many supporters of President Donald Trump.

Trump 2020 swag and conservative t-shirts are hard to miss.

Jim Urquhart

Bikers felt the breeze as they rode around the city, some of them topless.

Leather, body paint, and fishnet are popular attire at the annual event.

Jim Urquhart for Insider

Some attendees opted not to wear masks, even when social distancing wasn’t an option. A few of them reported that they were subjected to scoffs or dirty looks when they did.

Real Pinard, who recovered from 15 days with the coronavirus, said many rally goers were of the belief that COVID-19 is a hoax in an effort to throw the re-election of Trump. He knows it’s real.

Jim Urquhart for Insider

Business owners in Sturgis and surrounding towns depend on the revenue that the annual event generates.

Restaurants were filled with hungry patrons.

Jim Urquhart for Insider

Some vendors took advantage of the unfortunate timing of the event by selling coronavirus-themed swag.

Vendors come in from around the country to cater to the crowds.

Jim Urquhart/Insider

Confederate flags have been targeted and removed during the ongoing “racial reckoning” and related anti-racism protests around the US. But they were plentiful at the Sturgis Rally.

Nobody was tearing these Confederate Flags down.

Jim Urquhart for Insider

Visitors enjoy the Americana vibes at the event each year.

Coca-Cola, Harley-Davidson, Budweiser, and Rockstar Energy Drink are among the many sponsors.

Jim Urquhart/Insider

A week after the rally ends on August 16, the city of Sturgis and the local hospital will host mass coronavirus testing to see if, and how, the virus had spread.

Locals were encouraged to stay home and avoid the dense crowds that invaded their city.

Jim Urquhart for Insider

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