Health officials across the country have warned that the biker rally in Sturgis, SD has the potential to become a super-spreader event, but that's didn't stop thousands of bikers from flooding the small town and packing into bars and concerts without masks.
They rumbled through the streets and crowded the sidewalks, often without masks, for the start of a 10-day extravaganza so deeply rooted that Sturgis calls itself the City of Riders. WCVB reported that vendors at hundreds of tents sold motorcycle gear, food and T-shirts — one of which said, “Screw COVID. I went to Sturgis.”
“I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to be cooped up all my life either,” 66-year-old Stephen Sample told the Associated Press, explaining that he’d driven his Harley up from Arizona. He worries about getting coronavirus, he said, and was trying to steer clear of bars but ate breakfast that morning inside a diner.
Although this year’s rally was expected to draw half the number of attendees as prior years, motorcyclist Kevin Lunsmann, 63, told the AP that the only difference he noticed from past events was “a few people wearing masks.” People were still filling bars and nightclubs, he said.
And, as TMZ reported, hundreds of maskless people packed into a saloon to watch a ZZ Top tribute band play:
A ZZ Top tribute band, called ZZ3, took the stage at the Full Throttle Saloon and filled the room with Texas blues-rock. The rally, which will draw an estimated 250,000 people, always draws big-named performers, so it's no surprise hundreds of folks showed up.
Willie Nelson and Lynyrd Skynard were also scheduled to perform at the 9-day event but canceled because of the pandemic. Other artists who performed Saturday include Molly Hatchet and the Guess Who ... Night Ranger, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, .38 Special, Quiet Riot, Smash Mouth and others are expected to perform in the coming days.
The bar was packed and there was almost no social distancing, and lots of medical folks are worried this will become a super-spreading event. That clearly was not on the minds of the saloon audience.
Here's more reaction to and coverage of the event from Twitter: