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Sturgis rally to implement new vendor fee system

STURGIS (AP) -- Some Sturgis Motorcycle Rally vendors are unhappy with new fees being phased in over the next two summer events.

Vendor fees this year will increase $50 this year to $700.

A new system next year would charge a flat fee for every vendor at every location and then a per-squarefoot fee, Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie told KOTA television.

For large vendors, that could result in an increase of $1,800, she said.

"It does try to provide some equity among smaller vendors and larger ones," Ainslie said. "It's a small increase to keep up with up of inflation, trash services cost rise. "

David Wilson, owner of Sturgis Real Estate and Promotions, predicted that Rapid City and other Black Hills towns without vendor fees will see more business this year.

"Thirty percent of vendor space is empty," he said. "This fee will be one of the biggest economic disasters to ever hit the Sturgis rally. "

Wilson said there are plans to open a large rally attraction outside of Sturgis where vendor fees are significantly lower.

The 73nd edition of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which draws hundreds of thousands of bikers to South Dakota's Black Hills, runs Aug. 5-11.

Last year's rally generated more than $1.4 million dollars in revenue for the city.

Sturgis Photo and Gift Shop owner Bob Davis, who used to set up shop at the rallies, said it's very difficult to be a vendor.

He said he's seen the number of vendors lining these streets decrease by about 25 percent in the last seven years.

"Sturgis has more rules and regulations and more hoops to jump through than all the other towns in the Black Hills combined," said Davis.

Ainslie said the new fees might drive a few vendors away, but as part of the total cost to come to the rally, vendor fees are a minor portion.

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