Worried residents, however, say officials should have canceled the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in a state where Republican Gov. Kristi Noem resisted stay-at-home orders and mask rules – and last month welcomed another mass event, President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July weekend speech at the foot of Mount Rushmore. A city survey found that more than 60 percent of Sturgis residents wanted the event postponed, the Associated Press reported.
“This is a huge, foolish mistake to make to host the rally this year,” Sturgis resident Linda Chaplin warned city counselors earlier this summer, as a debate raged, according to the AP. “The government of Sturgis needs to care most for its citizens.”
“My grandma is absolutely terrified because she has diabetes and is in her 80s and has lupus,” another resident told CNN. “If she gets it, it’s a death sentence.”
But the spectacle in South Dakota’s Black Hills is hugely important to the local economy, bringing in $1.3 million in city and state tax revenue last year, according to the Argus Leader. A mayor’s letter overviewing Sturgis describes how the city “comes alive” with half a million visitors during a typical August rally, suddenly transformed into “the largest community in the state” with concerts and races.