As bikers flooded Main Street on Thursday night, Mitchell got a taste of the atmosphere at the annual Sturgis Bike Rally.
That was part of Brian Klock’s main goal when he helped create the Palace City Pre-Sturgis Party. Judging by the growing popularity of the event, that goal has been achieved.
For Kylie Forbes, president of South Dakota’s Fire and Iron Station 49 bike club, the party also provides a way for him to connect with fellow bikers on their way to the Sturgis Rally.
“It gets bigger and bigger every year, and it brings a little taste of Sturgis to Mitchell,” Forbes said. “It’s awesome to meet new people who ride, and we always have fun stories to share with each other. I just met some guys from Maine, and we have a chapter in Maine, so it’s crazy to have those kinds of cool run-ins. It shows you how the small the world actually is.”
While Forbes has attended the Palace City Pre-Sturgis Party in the past two years, he highlighted the community of Mitchell’s support that it shows for the bike culture, which can be rare compared to other parts of the country.
The event draws around 4,000 people. As Thursday night marked the third annual pre-sturgis party, the crowd took in a couple stunt bikers, who performed daring wheelies and burn outs along Main Street.
“When bikers roll in, it’s nice to see people here not roll their eyes and look the other way,” said Forbes, who will be heading out to the 80th annual Sturgis Bike Rally that kicks off next week.
Pete Bruce is one of the local community members who embraces the event. As someone who has been to the Sturgis rally, Bruce said the atmosphere in Mitchell mimics that of Sturgis. Bruce noted some people in the Mitchell area may have yet to experience the Sturgis Bike Rally, but he said the Palace City Pre-Sturgis Party gives them a preview of the rally.
“It is always so interesting to come down here when this is going on, as we all get to take in something that we don’t see very often,” Bruce said. “Everybody has heard about Sturgis, but some people may not have had the chance to ever go. But this brings a little bit of the rally here for people, so they can see what it’s like out there.”
Marty Vlasman, a local bike enthusiast, has noticed the community gaining more interest in the bike culture ever since the event took off three years ago. Vlasman is also the founder of Cruisin’ for a Cause, a nonprofit organization that hosts a swath of car shows in the area. However, he was leading a bike show on Thursday night in conjunction with the downtown event.
Although Vlasman said car shows are popular events among area residents, he hopes to see more bike shows in the future.
“In my opinion, we need some more bike shows, because there are some really nice bikes in Mitchell and the surrounding area,” Vlasman said. “Other than this bike show, there is really only about one more that allows people to bring out their bikes and show them off a bit. But the numbers are there, as you can see here today, so it would be great to do more bike shows.”