Vendors, police get head start on Sturgis rallySTURGIS (AP) — Street vendors, police and body artists are getting a jump on Monday’s start of the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally, a conclave that draws thousands of bikers to western South Dakota.
STURGIS (AP) — Street vendors, police and body artists are getting a jump on Monday’s start of the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally, a conclave that draws thousands of bikers to western South Dakota.
Chad Krog, of Marshall, Minn., is setting up at his first rally. He says he’ll be selling food and lemonade, and he’s hoping hot weather will help to sell juice.
“The fresh-squeezed lemonade is really, really good. And it’s going to be hot so it’s usually a pretty good seller,” Krog said. “We’ve got lots of lemons.”
Almost a thousand vendors set up at last year’s rally, and they rang up $12.5 million in sales. Krog says he’s hopeful the number will be larger this year, and he’s got some prime space at the end of Main Street.
“It sounds like it could be really interesting,” he said. “We’ll just have to go with it.”
Tonya Stevenson, who was taking a break from her job as a car dealer in Tacoma, Wash., to serve drinks at the Knuckle Saloon during the rally, was working shirtless Saturday, her chest covered by body paint showing an orange corset with black trim.
Stevenson said she’s worked wearing body paint at the rally for three years. The awkwardness of going shirtless goes away after a few minutes, she said.
“It’s one week out of the year I don’t have to wear a bra,” Stevenson said. “It’s fun, and I make money.”
Stang Sievers, the artist who painted Stevenson’s corset, said he has painted at the rally for five years. He charges about $50 for each job, and normally paints about 80 people, he said.
Kent Mortimer, a Sturgis business owner, hired body artist Pashur House to paint the chests of two of his female employees, and to paint store advertisements on their backs.
“They’re bringing people into the store like the Pied Piper bringing in rats,” he said. “Guys are very easy to please.”
One woman said topless women painted with street art can make $350 daily on tips during the rally by posing for photos.
Aside from bikers, the Sturgis rally pulls in extra law enforcement officers, many of whom have been coming back for years. The South Dakota Highway Patrol has averaged about 270 arrests each year for drunken driving alone.
“We hire people from eight different states,” said Jim Bush, the Sturgis police chief. “We don’t even advertise for this, it just comes from word of mouth. ... It’s not unlike the bikers. It’s kind of a reunion thing. It’s like that with the cops too.”
Tom Wilts, chief deputy in Meade County, said most of the people who attend the rally aren’t looking for trouble. He has watched it since 1990.
“You have some of the wild times, but it’s not as prevalent,” Wilts said. “People are more responsible in their approach to having a good time.”