The world’s largest biker bar, the Full Throttle Saloon, is open for only 10 days a year in August. This year, owner Mike Ballard has to turn a profit during the 70th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. From managing a full staff of bartenders and dancing girls to hosting big name concerts, burlesque shows and other biker-friendly acts; keeping it all together is more than most people could handle.

Strange trivia from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

  • The Sturgis rally has been held every year since 1938 except during WWII, when gas rationing rules prevented riders from making it to the Monument State.
  • When campaigning for President in 2008, Republican candidate John McCain visited the Sturgis Rally and made embarrassing headlines for telling a crowd, “With a little luck, [his wife Cindy] could be the only woman to serve as both the First Lady and Miss Buffalo Chip.” The Miss Buffalo Chip pageant, named for a campground with a rowdy reputation, regularly features topless contestants.
  • The popularity of motorcycles rallies like Sturgis have helped boost tourism in other states like Montana, as thousands of bikers pass through on their way to and from the rally.
  • It is illegal to lie down and fall asleep in a cheese factory anywhere in South Dakota. Of all the laws at the Sturgis Rally, this is one of the easiest to enforce.
  • Each year, about 600 tons of garbage is hauled from the rally.
  • In 2005 a rider at the rally was killed by a flying toilet.
  • Some of the more common laws broken at the Sturgis Rally include indecent exposure, open container sin public and driving on the bike path or sidewalk.
  • Drug arrests during the rally have dropped dramatically in the last nine years.
  • The city of Sturgis owns the only liquor store for about six miles – the next nearest is in Whitewood – and, not surprisingly, Sturgis Liquor does strong business during the rally.
  • In 2008, the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce filed a federal lawsuit against the organizers of a motorcycle rally held in Sturgis, Kentucky which was using the name “Little Sturgis.” The chamber president said, “I suspect the NFL would not tolerate a ‘Little NFL’ and that NASCAR would certainly not condone a ‘Little NASCAR,’ for the same reasons that we reject the unauthorized use of our trademarks to promote a ‘Little Sturgis’ motorcycle rally.”
  • No one over the age of 18 is legally required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle in South Dakota. The same principle does not apply to the Sturgis Skateboard Park, where “full pads are required.”
  • In the early part of the 20th Century, Sturgis was the home of “Poker Alice,” a well-known female brothel and speakeasy owner who once shot and killed a drunken soldier. She enjoyed reading the Bible and smoking cigars.
  • To date, the highest attended Sturgis rally was the one in 2000, which drew over 600,000 people.
  • Sturgis businesses make about 95% of their annual profit during the rally.
  • Visitors drink an estimated three million gallons of beer each year at the rally.
  • The Sturgis Rally features a machine gun shooting gallery where patrons can fire genuine military weaponry. Billed as “The ultimate 2nd Amendment experience,” the event allows you to shoot up to 60 different weapons, including a 50-caliber long range target gun that utilizes 5 ½” inch shells.
  • There have been several threats of boycotts to the Sturgis Rally over issues such as abortion and the mistreatment of the sacred lands of Native Americans. So far, no threat of boycott seems to have affected the rally.