The 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally officially kicked off Monday, but riders all summer have been visiting the city in western South Dakota. The rumble from the riders has been prevalent for weeks.
This year, officials are estimating Sturgis may hit 1 million visitors, which would be an all-time high.
The rally is a staple event for South Dakota, much like opening pheasant hunting weekend and visiting Mount Rushmore, but we're starting to wonder if the rally does more harm for our state than good.
Consider these Sturgis-related statistics from the South Dakota Department of Public Safety through 6 a.m. Monday.
There have been:
• 67 driving under the influence arrests
• 66 misdemeanor drug arrests
• 30 felony drug arrests
• 416 citations
• $4,191 of cash seized.
The state Department of Public Safety started tracking numbers on July 28, well before the rally's official start. The rally runs Monday through Sunday.
Aside from the criminal charges that have been handed out are the numerous injury and fatal crashes. The Department of Public Safety said there have been 29 Sturgis-related injury accidents and three fatalities thus far. Those numbers undoubtedly will rise.
A scary crash occurred Saturday morning east of Mitchell, in a construction zone, which sent one woman to the hospital with serious, life-threatening injuries. Another construction zone crash occurred Sunday morning west of Murdo that killed an Iowa motorcyclist.
Certainly the rally brings in millions of tourism dollars to our state. This year in Mitchell, we've seen thousands of riders travel through the area. Our motel and gas station owners benefit tremendously.
And for die-hard motorcycle enthusiasts, we realize this is their annual vacation. People come from all over the country, most of them with good intentions, because they love motorcycles and the camaraderie of a week spend with others who feel the same.
But each summer we hear of sex trafficking arrests in Sturgis, far too many drug and DUI arrests and people being killed and injured from crashes in which they're headed to Sturgis.
And all the meanwhile, we ask more from our law enforcement officials, who this year are coming from five states to help control the rally.
Is the tourism money worth these headaches? Is the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally worth the possibility of rival motorcycle gangs creating havoc? Is it worth the additional drugs coming to our state, alcohol-related crashes and the need for additional law enforcement?
South Dakota seriously needs to consider whether the Sturgis event is worth the trouble it causes. That's because we think the event is not worth the drugs, deaths and troubles.