STURGIS, S.D. — While the 79th annual Sturgis motorcycle rally is all set to rumble into the Black Hills less than five weeks from now, confusion over dates for the milestone 80th event in 2020 has rally-goers and hosts scrambling more than a year in advance.
Some rally websites, including rallysturgis.com, list the 2020 rally as starting on July 31 and continuing through Aug. 9. The correct dates are Aug. 7 through Aug. 16.
A release from the Buffalo Chip Campground said it was the city of Sturgis that had incorrect 2020 dates listed on its website and changed that earlier this week, which the city denies.
Buffalo Chip spokeswoman Nyla Griffith said hundreds of campers have already reserved their spots within the incorrectly listed dates.
Griffith said the campground near Sturgis will extend an extra week’s camping for free to allow for the scheduling mix-up. There is also a possibility the campground could schedule concerts that first week as well.
“Our customers are No. 1 in our minds and that’s why we’re making this adjustment to make sure our customers have the best experience possible,” she said.
Other rally-goers are having to alter travel plans as well.
A Florida woman posting on Facebook said she had reserved rally lodging for the first week of August in 2020 but was able to change to the later dates working through a booking agent.
Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie said Thursday he wasn’t aware of any official city or rally websites posting the wrong dates for 2020.
“We’re glad people are asking the questions now, more than a year out,” he said. “We hope everyone starts advertising the correct dates and in the future it would be helpful if people would always consult the official site as opposed to some of those others."
For many years, the rally was a seven-day event starting on a Monday during the first full week of August. But in 2017, the rally became a 10-day event starting on the first Friday of August.
The change to a 10-day event was made in October 2016 by the Sturgis City Council.
According to a news release from the city, in the years leading up to the 2016 change, the city received requests from area tourism attractions to avoid starting the rally during prime family tourist season in July.
Various city and government agencies also expressed a preference to having the event begin in August to allow for a longer road construction season.
”The big issue was all these people were coming, and the largest days of the rally were becoming the Saturday and Sunday before the rally had even started,” Ainslie said. “That’s why they wanted to make it easier to understand, and the easiest way was to say we’re starting on the first Friday in August.”