Sturgis Main Street with bikes

Motorcycles line Main Street in Sturgis in 2016. South Dakota Transportation officials say they counted about 6 percent more vehicles traveling the roads into Sturgis over the first weekend of the 77th Sturgis motorcycle rally.

Journal file

STURGIS - South Dakota Transportation officials say they counted about 6 percent more vehicles traveling the roads into Sturgis over the first weekend of the 77th Sturgis motorcycle rally.

At nine locations entering Sturgis, the four-day total for 2017 was 215,835 as compared with 203,334 in 2016; that's a 6.1 percent increase.

Kristi Sandal, public information officer for the state DOT, said Tuesday that Friday traffic was up 11.3 percent for the 2017 rally compared with the same day last year.

The Saturday count was also up 9 percent from the previous year. Sunday and Monday numbers were up just slightly over 2016.

In addition to traffic counters placed on paved roads into Sturgis, the DOT is taking counts on Fort Meade Way, the road that goes from Interstate 90 Exit 37 to the Buffalo Chip Campground, Sandal said.

Here are the numbers:

Friday: 48,489 - up 11.3% from Friday last year

Saturday: 54,254 – up 9 % from Saturday last year

Sunday: 54,425 – up 1.8% from Sunday last year

Monday: 58,669 – up 3.7% from Monday last year

Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie said that mirrors the statistics the city has tallied this week. Year-to-date garbage statistics show that tonnage of garbage collected is up about 7 percent from a year ago.

The number of vendor licenses issued by the city has been lagging behind a year ago. Ainslie said the city has seen a noticeable decrease in the number of food vendors at the rally.

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"Last year we had a huge number of food vendors and they were attracted here by the 75th," he said. "But there were truly many more than the rally could support."

Ainslie also said the several T-shirt vendors who had four or five outlets a year ago have pared down to two or three locations.

As of Monday, the city of Sturgis has issued 649 temporary vending permits. That compares with 712 for the same time period in 2016.

Ainslie said surveys of rallygoers are showing that some are making spur-of-the-moment decisions to come to Sturgis.

"We've had people decide just in the last two to three months that they were going to come to Sturgis. Traditionally it has been like nine months before that people decide they are going to attend," he said. "That shows that our digital marketing helped enhance our attendance."

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