Why Was Attendance Down at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally This Year?
The 83rd annual event. which just wrapped up, saw better than 450,000 vehicles pass through during the ten days of the rally, according to the South Dakota Department of Transportation
And while that number (458,161) is impressive, it does represent a downturn from crowds of the recent past.
Attendance Down at 2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
Overall, the 2023 figures were down a little more than 40,000 vehicles from the five-year average of 498,282 vehicles. That's down slightly more than eight percent.
So what's to blame for the drop in attendance at Sturgis?
The online news site The Messenger says there are two main factors to blame:
'The primary culprit for the declining attendance is that the usual attendees are simply getting older and younger folks are not showing up at the same rate. But weather also may have played a factor.
The average high temperature was 81°F, making it the eighth-coolest rally on record. The lowest temperature year was 1999 when the average high was 78.7°F. Rainfall totaled 1.55 inches this year, though that only made it the 16th wettest year on record.'
Here is the day-by-day breakdown of the numbers compared to the five-year average:
- Friday, August 4: 45,652 vehicles (-13.4%)
- Saturday, August 5: 38,126 vehicles (-37.3%)
- Sunday, August 6: 60,586 vehicles (+4.4%)
- Monday, August 7: 50,487 vehicles (-16.9%)
- Tuesday, August 8: 55,848 vehicles (-4.2%)
- Wednesday, August 9: 56,444 vehicles (+1.4%)
- Thursday, August 10: 52,195 vehicles (+3.7%)
- Friday, August 11: 45,661 vehicles (+0.4%)
- Saturday, August 12: 33,278 vehicles (-4.5%)
- Sunday, August 13: 19,884 vehicles (-6.5%)
Crime and Crashes at Sturgis
And while the SDOT was monitoring traffic, the South Dakota Highway Patrol was dealing with the crime and crash figures from the rally.
Overall there were 11 fatalities in the area surrounding the event.
The other numbers:
- Injury accidents: 64 (up from 50 last year)
- Drunken-driving arrests: 120 (down from 148 last year)
- Drug arrests: 401 (up from 251 last year)
- Total citations: 1,479 (up from 1,430 last year)
- Total warnings: 4,296 (down from 5,288 last year)
- Cash seized: $2,005 (down from $4,335 last year)