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Official attendance at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally set at 480,000

A group of Chinese motorcyclists visited this past summer's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Submitted photo by City of Sturgis

STURGIS, S.D. -- Official attendance for the 2017 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was released Thursday showing an estimated 480,000 people attended the 77th annual event in August, up from last year.

Last year’s estimate was 448,000 visitors.

It was well below the record-setting attendance for the 75th annual event in 2015 when 739,000 people traveled to the Black Hills of western South Dakota for the nine-day gathering of motorcyclists from across the world.  Some were estimating almost 1 million attended the 75th event, but that wasn’t official.

The official number for this past summer’s event was released at the first Sturgis Rally Summit on Wednesday, Oct. 11, and Thursday, Oct. 12, where local business owners discussed increasing digital advertising and having more events at the end of the rally.

“Traditionally the most activity is early in the week and attendance quickly tapers off toward the end of the week,” said Christina Steele, public information officer for the City of Sturgis.

Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie told the gathering that there have been increasing inquiries from businesses about how they can better market to rally visitors who travel through their areas on the way to the rally.

It was reported that this year’s rally had a direct and indirect economic impact of $738 million in South Dakota.

“The economic impact of the rally has a far reach,” Ainslie said.