Cowboys on horseback escort motorcycles and vehicles to the tune of country music around the outside of a stone house built in the 1880s just west of Belle Fourche.
If anyone needs anything, they know to look for the blonde in a white cowgirl hat, and if they want a 13-ingredient Bloody Mary, a woman called Spicy Jugs is the designated person who can meet the request.
It’s all locals-turned-family serving between 5,000 and 15,000 people at the Stone House Saloon, and Stacey Besler — the blonde in the white cowgirl hat, her signature look during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally — is at the helm.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun,” Besler said. “I would say that it’s probably literally the best place to be because we’re all outdoors. There’s nothing indoors except for the old house.”
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Besler runs the Stone House Saloon, an outdoor venue with multiple bars, a kitchen, dance floor and stage for two bands a day, running water in its bathrooms and a stone house that has its interior covered in signatures from rally goers of the past. Picnic benches and wooden tables are also covered in signatures.
Besler said the Besler family owns the location they took over about five years ago. The Stone House Saloon, which is open for about 22 days of the year, celebrates 22 years during the 82nd rally.
She said she and her husband Adam decided to take it over to get more acreage for their cows. Everything on the menu except for the pork is 100% local South Dakota beef.
The Besler family is from Bison, but Stacey said she was born in Deadwood and grew up in Nemo. She said she’s a cowgirl and prefers riding horses to bikes, but she is no stranger to the rally.
“I know what they bring to the community and how important it to them as bikers, so we try to make it the best experience when they come out here,” she said.
Other than a change in ownership, Besler said the only things that have changed are the new dance floor, covering the bathrooms and the kitchen area, and adding the Wall of Heroes.
“I had turned it into a special place for all the veterans to come because veterans are very important to the Beslers,” she said.
The wall was built two years ago and started with two centerpieces as a tribute to Jeremy and Amanda Crow, cousins who served in the Navy.
“They’re super big Harley riders and big bikers,” she said.
Besler said all the veterans and their families can sign their names on the wall instead of the house. She said they can also bring their patches. Each year Besler covers the wall so it stays safe and does not get worn down by the weather.
She said the first Sunday of the rally Stone House Saloon does military appreciation day, which includes $1 off drinks. This year the saloon will have dueling auctioneers and all money raised will go back to veterans.
Besler said she starts planning for the rally around February for merchandise, design and any changes to make. Around April and May, she looks for staff and July it’s “balls to the walls.”
She said it takes them about four to five weeks to get fully set up, which includes netting overhead, cleaning tables, opening the house, turning on the water and getting inventory ordered. After its 22 days, the Stone House Saloon turns into a hole in the wall and a place for the Beslers to run their cattle.
About 20 to 30 people help the operation, including bartenders, barbacks, T-shirt staff, bathroom staff, cooks and cowboys guiding modern iron horses to their parking spots.
Besler said the gates open at 10 a.m. for the five days leading up to the rally and 9 a.m. the week of.
“Usually by nine there’s a line of bikes,” she said.
One of the bands starts at 10 a.m. and alternates with another until about 8 p.m.
The Stone House Saloon is located at 9160 SD-34 in Belle Fourche.
— Contact Siandhara Bonnet at email@example.com —