STURGIS | The Buffalo Chip Campground has come a long way as a concert venue in its nearly 40 years of existence.
Owner and founder Rod Woodruff can still recall the early days, opening the gates at what was then a bare-bones campground east of Sturgis in 1981, and adding the first concerts a year later.
According to the campgrounds online history, those first acts included Susan Nelson, Johnny Paycheck and the Foggy Notion Band.
Enticing musicians to play in what was then a basic prairie venue, a portable stage with a tarp awning, wasn’t easy, Woodruff said.
“When we started, you couldn’t explain enough where South Dakota was,” Woodruff recalled.
“Even after we got the contracts done, they called us North Dakota,” he said. “South Dakota was just not on the map.”
Now 39 years later, the Buffalo Chip is announcing, on Black Friday, the first five headlining acts for what has become one the largest music festivals in the world for the 80th Sturgis motorcycle rally.
The first of what will be approximately 40 acts for the 10-day run of the rally from Aug. 7-16, 2020, includes Willie Nelson & Family, ZZ Top, REO Speedwagon, Shinedown and Puddle of Mudd.
“All of these guys are going to be the favorites of somebody,” Woodruff said in a Tuesday telephone interview from Colorado, where he was waiting out a winter storm.
Alternative rockers Puddle of Mudd (Friday, Aug. 7) open the headliner concert series, making their third appearance on the Wolfman Jack stage. Their string of no. 1 Billboard Mainstream Rock singles includes “Blurry” and “She Hates Me.”
“We’ve had them when they were coming up, just getting started and now they’re pretty well established,” Woodruff said.
Shinedown (Saturday, Aug. 8) is making its fourth appearance at the Buffalo Chip The multi-platinum band has sold more than 10 million records worldwide and has had 14 no. 1 singles, such as “Save Me,” “Devour,” “Second Chance,” and “The Crow and the Butterfly,” on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts.
The band, which headlined at the Buffalo Chip in 2008 and 2011, also recently won several major music awards including Rock Artist of the Year and Rock Track of the Year.
“They resonate so well with the crowd,” Woodruff said.
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The preliminary lineup also includes a first for the campground, championship boxing on Saturday, Aug. 8.
The Takeover–Team Certified Sports Boxing Championships, will feature six bouts, including a title fight, to be announced, in a venue to be set up in the Flaunt Playground.
The boxing card is to be televised live, although details of the broadcast are also in the planning stages, Woodruff said.
American Flat Track Series Buffalo Chip TT (Sunday, Aug. 9) will be one of two AFT series races to be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network.
Two sporting events broadcast live on successive nights is a first for the campground, Woodruff said.
“That’s a first for South Dakota, I think,” he said.
Veteran rock band REO Speedwagon (Monday, Aug. 10) is making its third appearance at the Buffalo Chip and first since 2004.
REO has sold more than 40 million records with 13 Top 40 hits, including "Keep On Loving You," “Take it on the Run” and "Can't Fight This Feeling".
Willie Nelson and Family (Tuesday, Aug. 11) brings the co-founder of Outlaw Country Willie Nelson and his family to perform some of his biggest hits from a six-decade career, which includes 25 No. 1 hits and 200 plus albums, including “Crazy,” “Red Headed Stranger,” “On the Road Again” and “Stardust”.
Nelson last headlined at the Buffalo Chip in 2016.
Another veteran band, ZZ Top (Wednesday, Aug. 12) will be making its seventh appearance at the Buffalo Chip, and first since 2014. The longest running major rock band with all original band members intact first appeared at the Buffalo Chip in 2004, the same year of their induction into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Since then, ZZ Top has played the Chip in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2014.
“Those guys are staples,” Woodruff said. “People love them and we’re happy to have them back.”
Headlining music acts are yet to be announced for Sunday, Aug. 9, Thursday, Aug. 13, Friday, Aug. 14, and Saturday, Aug. 15.
“When we have this music, it warms everybody’s heart, with something they’re familiar with and again with something newer,” Woodruff said.
More information is available at BuffaloChip.com.
(Editor's Note: the above story has been changed to clarify the name of the American Flat Track Series.)