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Sturgis official hopes to avoid rally rumpus

STURGIS (AP) -- The Sturgis police chief says he's worried about a beer garden party getting out of hand during the annual motorcycle rally in the Black Hills.

The Sturgis City Council has approved a special event liquor license that will allow people to buy alcohol outside the city's motorcycle museum and drink on a blocked-off street during a three-hour party on Aug. 3.

The Rapid City Journal reported that Sturgis Police Chief Jim Bush is wary of the party, which takes places on one of the busiest street corners in town. Bush said a lot of people "get caught up in the atmosphere" when there's music and drinking.

"It doesn't take very many people to fill up that street, and we have a lot of people downtown," Bush told council members. "Where they are at they will have no problem getting 5,000 people, and I just want you to know I don't know if I'm going to be able to control it."

City Manager Daniel Ainslie said that while half of the proceeds from beer sales will go to the museum to help offset the loss of income from not having outside vendors during this year's rally, he's worried that letting people drink in the street sets a precedent.

"There are concerns about the ability to actually enforce open container rules within the rest of Main Street," he said.

"If you are on the wrong side of the fence, are they (police) going to have to ask the visitor to either pour the drink out, ticket or arrest them?"

Dave Davis, a Rapid City insurance agent and chairman of the museum board of directors, said it would be nice, but not necessary, to open up the street for the beer party. But he would understand if the council was uncomfortable with that request.

"We are very adaptable. We want to make it work," Davis said.