As Sturgis attendance slows, rally organizers look to diversify: Report

Sturgis Rally organizers, who have seen attendance fall dramatically and then taper off since the 75th rally that set a record of roughly 750,000 rally-goers in 2015, have been trying for several years to build interest in the event and the motorcycling lifestyle, according to a recent report from Dakota News Now. The report states that show organizers realize that to make the show grow in the years ahead, it needs a more diversified audience “beyond the middle-aged white men who dominate the rally now.”

Attendance at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally peaked in 2015 when they had 750,000 attendees. Rally organizers are looking to diversify to grow the attendance in the future.

Attendance at the annual August event, which generated an estimated $785 million last year in overall revenue for the city and state, according to the City of Sturgis, has dropped by a third since the 75th and fell by more than 9% from 550,000 in 2021 to 505,000 in 2022, according to estimates.

Adding to the concern, the South Dakota Department of Transportation reported that traffic entering Sturgis during the first four days of the 2023 rally was down more than 16% compared with the 5-year average. DOT said that 194,851 vehicles were counted entering Sturgis at nine locations so far this year, compared with the five-year average of 232,353 vehicles.

Rally officials have tried to increase attendance in the past few years, especially among new audiences such as young people, women and minorities, as officials know that the aging population of the current rally-goers is not going to last forever.

The goal, says the report, is to bring in new people from all walks of life to supplement the current aging attendees who someday will permanently park their Harleys.

Read the full story on Dakota News Now’s website.