This weekend, probably the largest gathering in the world this year will take place at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. Forget limiting the size of groups. Forget mandatory masks. In fact, for 10 days, just forget Covid-19. It’s all a conspiracy anyway, stoked by the Liberals / Chinese / BLM / whatever fits. Let’s put that aside and celebrate American Freedom!
Free-dumb, more like.
Organizers anticipate a quarter of a million bikers will converge on the town of 7,000, just outside the Black Hills, which will be a subdued rally with about half the attendance of last year. Others think attendance might actually increase, since this is a chance to finally get out and party, and to let your remaining hair fly in the wind of the helmetless state. Canadians will have a hard time crossing the border to attend, and thank God for that, but Americans can just get on their bikes and ride on over.
South Dakota has been fairly well insulated from the Covid-19 virus because it’s a low-population, rural state, though the numbers are now climbing. It’s one of only two states, with neighbouring Iowa, to not have any mandatory requirement for wearing a mask in public places. When 7,500 people got together with President Trump at Mount Rushmore on July 3 to celebrate the eve of Independence Day, there was apparently no outbreak of the virus after the event. So far, South Dakota has reported about 9,000 known cases of Covid-19 with just over 130 deaths, which is significantly fewer than states like Florida, California and Texas.
But there’ll be thousands of bikers from all those states riding in to Sturgis this weekend, and while they’ll be safe from catching the virus while they’re out in the fresh air on their motorcycles, it will be very different once they park their bikes and start drinking in the local bars, or standing in the crowds of the concerts, the races and the downtown throng.
In its defence, the City of Sturgis took its responsibility very seriously and surveyed numerous exhibitors, authorities and potential participants before making the final decision in June to go ahead with the 80-year-old annual rally. A survey of local residents showed 60 per cent wanted the event cancelled, but in the end, money talked – after all, in a good year, the event earns close to $800 million U.S. for the region.
According to the Associated Press, a tourism souvenir wholesaler threatened to sue the city if the event was cancelled. Supporters argued that the Sturgis rally is too big to contain, especially against hundreds of thousands of freedom-loving bikers.
Even if it was shut down, plenty would still turn up and look for places to stay and eat and drink. The huge Buffalo Chip Campground just outside town recognized this and announced it would stay open for them. Of course, it was almost unfathomable that it might do otherwise, since it basically exists for the rally. “We spend money for 355 days of the year without any return on it, hoping people show up for nine days,” its operator, Rod Woodruff, told the AP. “We’re a nine-day business.”
There are rules in the City of Sturgis to try to protect participants from the virus. There’ll be hand-washing stations everywhere, vendors are “encouraged” to wear masks, and groups are asked to keep a physical distance from others.
The normal fire marshal’s maximum capacity of people in any business is halved. The parade is cancelled, and the photo towers that you can climb to get a better view of Main Street will be closed. Take a look at the City of Sturgis live webcams to decide for yourself if the precautions are working.
It gets pretty raucous though – I should know, I spent a night in the city jail during my first rally there – and many of the participants will be the virus deniers who’ve assured Covid’s calamitous spread in other states. Organizers say that after the rally ends on August 16th, all residents will be tested for the virus to find out how they fared. However, those are only 7,000 probably-cautious people out of the hundreds of thousands who’ll attend, and we’ll likely never know the true consequences as the rally-goers fan back to their homes across the United States. Any increase in the national death rate will be blamed on the end of summer.
Why should you care about this if you’re safe in Canada? There are two reasons.
The most obvious is that the massive Sturgis rally will probably create an unprecedented surge of Covid-19 in a country that’s already struggling to contain the virus. It will kill and sicken more of our American neighbours, not just those who attended the rally, and will keep our international border closed all the longer.
But the other is that these stupid, selfish Darwinist rally-goers are bikers, giving all motorcyclists a bad name. A quarter of them are retired, the average age is 54, and 75 per cent of them ride Harley-Davidsons. The true test of this huge health experiment will be seen next year, when we find out the new demographic of Sturgis’s 2021 participants. If I was the CEO of already-challenged Harley-Davidson, I think I’d be slapping my forehead now and hanging up my boots.