Tens of thousands of motorcycle riders have descended on a small town in South Dakota for a week-long annual rally taking place despite the pandemic and high infection rates in the US.
While many parts of the rally in the town of Sturgis are outdoors, local media outlets over the weekend showed that indoor bars have been crowded and that masks are not required.
Local authorities estimate some 250,000 people may attend the rally. While this is just half the normal attendance figure, it would remain one of the largest mass gatherings in the US since the pandemic hit.
The rally has been an annual fixture since 1938. Bikers from across the country, many riding iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycles, head to the town for concerts, races and charity events.
Sturgis, a town of just several thousand people, is strongly associated with the rally – the main intersection in the town is the corner of Main Street and Harley-Davidson Way. Its economy depends heavily on the event.
South Dakota Governor Kristin Noem last week told Fox News she was determined to let the rally take place, noting that it was vital to the state’s revenue flow. Noem hosted a July 4 Independence Day rally by President Donald Trump at Mount Rushmore.
Sturgis itself plans to provide virus tests for residents after the rally concludes.
The rally started over the weekend and continues until August 16.