The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally opened Friday, Aug. 2, with felony drug arrests markedly higher the first weekend that in 2018.
It’s billed as the 79th Anniversary Rally. The first motorcycle rally was held in 1938, connected with races and garnering only a few bikers, before they were known as bikers.
The rally this year will run 10 days from Friday through Sunday, Aug. 11, and is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people, as it has for decades.
But the first Rally was only one day, Aug. 14, 1938, with nine guys racing motorcycles, according to the Rally’s history posted online at www.sturgismotorcyclerally.com.
It grew slowly, skipping two war years.
No rally was held in 1942 or 1943 because of gas rationing during World War II, but it’s been held every year since.
So this year is the 80th Sturgis Rally, and the 79th Anniversary marked since the first rally in 1938.
The state Department of Public Safety, including the HIghway Patrol, reported its first daily traffic crash and crime numbers on Sunday.
From 6 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 3, to 6 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 4, there were 22 DUI arrests in Sturgis and the nearby Rapid City district, compared with 19 for the same 24 hours in 2018, said Tony Mangan, DPS spokesman who is at the Rally, in a news release.
There were 23 felony drug arrests compared with eight a year ago and 189 total citations, compared with 136 in 2018.
Total law enforcements warnings were at 553, up from 464 a year ago.
There were no traffic fatalities in Sturgis and the surrounding district in that first day’s measure, compared with two deaths in 2018 for the same period. There were nine injury traffic crashes, compared with seven in 2018; 11 non-injury traffic crashes, the same as in 2018.
As of 8 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 1, the city of Sturgis had received applications for 501 temporary vending permits for the Rally and more will be issued during the Rally, according to Christina Steele, public information officer for the Rally. Last year, the city issued 646 such permits by the end of the Rally.
Main Street in Sturgis was closed to regular traffic, as usual, on the first day of the rally on Friday.
The grand opening was held Friday with Michael Ballard and Jesse James Dupree of the Full Throttle Saloon and Pappy Hoel Campground, serving as Grand Marshals for the 17th Annual Sturgis Mayor’s Ride.
The waterfront trails along the Missouri River in Pierre will have their planned improved extension within the next two months. The Marina Trail Connector is a $135,590 city of Pierre project, divided 50/50 through a matching grant from the WellMark Foundation.
“We got a grant for the project, so we can extend taxpayers’ money,” said Tom Thomas Moore, parks superintendent. “A lot of city entities came together for this to get done.”
The new trail extends the improvements of the Lewis and Clark Trail.
New construction is just north of the marina, then turns south along the east side of the marina, then heads east again. The continuing east part will remain dirt and trees, at least for the foreseeable future.
The extension includes six streetlight poles on the north, and seven on the east. A vault restroom is already installed at the southeast corner of the marina, with a streetlight pole with a security camera installed on it. The project is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.
“Used to be a lousy gravel road,” said Moore, speaking of the section east of the marina. It is currently a sharp-looking packed-gravel road, waiting for blacktop to be laid in the next few weeks. “I hear the area has been a favorite for a long time, maybe 30 years, with the youth. The path continues on east to the Farm Island Recreation Area. The marina area is a very active, popular and successful fishing-from-shore area. I have seen a lot of couples fishing here.”
On Tuesday, Aug. 13, Tim Bjorkman will tell the story of a good man gone bad when the History and Heritage Book Club meets at 7 p.m. CDT, at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.
Bjorkman, a Canistota resident, is the author of “Verne Sankey: America’s First Public Enemy.”
“Verne Sankey’s name is almost lost to history. But in 1934, as authorities delivered John Dillinger to an Indiana jail, the United States Justice Department announced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had just captured America’s Public Enemy No. 1. The Justice Department was not referring to Dillinger, but to Sankey,” said Catherine Forsch, president of the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation.
The foundation is the nonprofit fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society and the sponsor of the History and Heritage Book Club.
Sankey was born on July 18, 1891, in Avoca, Iowa. His family moved to Wilmot in northeastern South Dakota when Sankey was a boy. As an adult, Sankey and his bride moved to Melville, Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1914 to work for the railroad. The family returned to South Dakota in 1931 and bought a farm southwest of Gann Valley. By then, Sankey had become a gambler, bootlegger and bank robber. In 1933, he kidnapped a wealthy Denver man and held him for ransom.
Bjorkman became interested in Sankey when he was a child, listening to two barbers talk about the outlaw. His interest was rekindled when, as an adult, he stopped in Gann Valley and read about Sankey in old editions of the town’s newspaper.
“Sankey was the first – and actually the only – Public Enemy No. 1 ever identified by the United States Department of Justice,” Bjorkman said. “That claim – first made in this book – has never been challenged and corrects oversights and misstatements on the topic of public enemies which entirely overlooked Sankey.”
Bjorkman served for a decade as a judge of South Dakota’s First Judicial Circuit, comprising 14 southeastern South Dakota counties. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion in 1978 and from its law school in 1982. He practiced law in Bridgewater for 24 years. Bjorkman was elected as judge of the First Judicial Circuit in 2006 and re-elected in 2014. Now retired from the bench, he writes, gardens and, together with his wife, travels and relishes time with his children and grandchildren.
Copies of “Verne Sankey: America’s First Public Enemy” are sold at the Heritage Stores at the Cultural Heritage Center and the Capitol, online at www.sdhsf.org or by calling 605-773-6346.
People can find out how to join the program at locations other than the Cultural Heritage Center by calling 605-773-6006.
John Cooper, Paul Lepisto, Bill Englehart, Todd Tedrow, Curt Underhill and Greg Goodman beamed, deservedly proud, as they shared information about the success of their latest Kids Fishing Event, held earlier this summer, the eighth annual event of its kind.
The Kids Fishing Event, focused on ages 6 — 18, got kids and some parents in a boat on the waters of Lake Sharpe for a day’s fishing, something many of them had never experienced before, said Cooper, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife conservation officer.
During the last eight years, the Kids Fishing Event has given some 800 kids a chance to experience the outdoors, many for the first time, said Lepisto, Regional Conservation Coordinator for the Issac Walton League.
What started the event was the realization that many kids — even here in outdoors-rich Pierre — never get a chance to experience the outdoors, including fishing, Cooper said.
In 2011, Doug Iverson, Kenny Steiner, John Heinz, and Cooper came together to kick the program off.
Cooper cited Richard Louv’s 2005 book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” as one inspiration for beginning the effort. The book describes the human costs of alienation from nature experienced in modern society. Too many kids today spend more time looking at screens of some sort rather than experiencing first-hand the outdoors, the group agreed. Their aim is to offer kids the real deal: hands-on outdoor adventures.
Lepisto, Cooper and Englehart talked about how they’d been introduced to the outdoors — through family members or a mentor of some sort — and noted how this kind of mentorship seems to be dying out in modern society. With both parents working, with more single moms, with today’s busy lifestyles, with so many other kid activities like sports siphoning off time, it’s simply tough to get kids outdoors the way they knew.
During the last eight years, the effort has grown, the group agreed — especially with the help of Underhill and Goodman, from Delta Waterfowl, and the Issac Walton League providing funding to continue the effort. Underhill is also connected to the South Dakota Governor’s Cup walleye fishing tournament.
For example, Delta Waterfowl’s local chapter, “Fowled Up,” provided $1,000 for this year’s event, then offered a Henry Rifle Golden Boy, engraved on both sides of the action with Kids Fishing Event logos, to be raffled off at Delta Waterfowl’s banquet. This raised $1,800 to fund next year’s event.
Both Goodman and Underhill emphasized that Delta Waterfowl is very, very interested in getting kids outdoors and can provide funding for programs like the Kids Fishing Event.
Other contributors and sponsors included fishing tackle manufacturers like Berkley and Quantum; Runnings, always a big help said Cooper; and local merchants including The Ramkota, Cowboy County convenience stores; also SD Game, Fish and Parks, the city of Pierre and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The boats for the event were donated and run by local anglers who captained the kids into fishing hotspots. So long as they were catching fish, it didn’t matter whether those fish were crappies, white bass, walleyes or catfish, Cooper said. Lepisto chuckled at how the captains shared where they’d found fish on the lake during lunch break, something hardcore anglers fishing for themselves rarely do.
And the kids went home with free fishing tackle, got to shoot BB guns at an indoor range courtesy of the National Wild Turkey Federation, had a good lunch.
Cooper lauded the “spirit of the community” for helping to perpetuate this effort and talked about how Pierre’s quality of life is enhanced by having so much high quality nature available so close.
He said the success of the Kids Fishing Event was best represented by how kids who were beginning anglers just eight years ago have returned to the program to serve as boat captains or just to help out. That’s the effort coming full circle, getting people hooked — literally — on the outdoors.
A HuntSAFE class has been scheduled at the Izaak Walton League Clubhouse in southeast Pierre. Classes will be held from 6 — 8:30 p.m. on August 12, 13, 15 and from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on August 17 at the Oahe Downstream Shooting Complex. Attendance is required at all sessions.
A second opportunity for the HuntSAFE class will be the Independent Study Class in Fort Pierre. This Independent Study Class requires on-line course work prior to attending the Field Day on September 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 (Central Time). This class is held at the Game, Fish, and Parks Office, Highway 1806, North of Fort Pierre.
Registration is available at https://gfp.sd.gov/hunter-education/. For more information contact Karen Olson at 224-0269.
All young people between the ages of 12 and 16, as well as those who will turn 12 by Dec. 31 and who will hunt during the current year after Sept. 1, are required to successfully complete a HuntSAFE class and possess a HuntSAFE card while hunting.
Parents are encouraged to attend with their children. People wishing to brush up on their safe hunting skills or be a hunting mentor are also encouraged to attend. HuntSAFE classes are sponsored by S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Department as well as local community sponsors.