The 68th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Report was released, revealing mixed numbers.
The estimated attendance at the 2008 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was 414,917, down 18.2 percent from 2007. Attendance, sales tax, vendor fees and sponsorship revenues, however, showed a large increase of 47 percent.
Prior to the event, motorcycle traffic was up, with many retailers in the area reporting sales increases from 2007. The city’s sales tax was up 18 percent year-to-date in July, suggesting the unofficial rally is starting earlier in the summer.
While state sales tax numbers were down 25.7 percent for the official rally week, Sturgis sales tax figures saw a much smaller decrease of 7.6 percent. The city’s sales tax was up 3 percent year-to-date after the rally.
Sturgis did see a 14.8 percent decrease in vendor licenses and an 11.5 percent decrease in vendor fees collected. Traffic counts submitted by the South Dakota Department of Transportation show rally numbers in the Sturgis area were down 12.1 percent, and Mount Rushmore’s counts down 25.8 percent.
“We knew we would face some challenges this year but we also took into consideration a robust summer tourist season and the impact a strong Euro and Canadian dollar would have on the event,” Director Pepper Massey said in the release. “Many exhibitors stated they had record sales and we saw more ATM cash withdrawals this year than in 2007. Attendees and exhibitors commented over and over that it was one of their best rally experiences and that makes it a great year for the city.”