- Associated Press - Monday, August 14, 2017

STURGIS, S.D. (AP) - Western South Dakota’s famed motorcycle rally in Sturgis saw a small uptick in attendance this year.

This year’s 10-day motorcycle rally wrapped up Sunday. The rally has been held annually for the past 77 years, the Rapid City Journal reported .

The state Department of Transportation data show that an estimated 376,000 vehicles entered Sturgis during the event, compared to less than 360,000 in 2016.

Officials said attendance may have been higher this year because of pleasant weather.

Mike Mead of Las Vegas made his annual appearance at the rally this year after receiving a 2007 Harley-Davidson Electraglide Classic motorcycle as a gift from his son.

“For a lot of the riders in this country, they tell us this is one of their favorite rallies,” said Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie. “Thankfully we’ve had some great chamber-of-commerce weather this week.”

The number of wrecks involving injuries also increased from last year. The South Dakota Highway Patrol reported eight fatal accidents during the rally’s official time frame, compared with three last year. Four the fatal accidents didn’t involve motorcycles but were reported by the patrol because they happened in the area during the time frame.

“It’s always difficult when you mix a bunch of motorcycles and cars,” said Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin. “The motorcycles tend to turn around in the middle of the street and tend to speed a little more than they should and so as a driver of a car you really need to be paying attention. The same holds true for the motorcycle riders. It’s a balancing act.”

Despite the accidents, this year’s rally ran smoothly for the Highway Patrol, said Capt. Jason Ketterling.

“It’s been great,” said Sturgis Police Chief Geody VanDewater. “My guys are getting along with the citizens and the citizens are enjoying them. All in all, it’s been a good rally.”

VanDewater also thanked local businesses and residents for their patience and support during the rally.

“We appreciate them being open and friendly to our visitors,” he said.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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