The vendors who line the streets in the Black Hills of South Dakota city are up this year, according to public information officer Christina Steele, with 609 as of Friday compared to 588 last year.
Vendors line many of the town’s city streets, including Main Street which this past year underwent a major upgrading.
The grand opening ceremony was Friday afternoon at the Harley Davidson Rally Point, with racing also starting at the Sturgis Fairgrounds in the Pappy Hoel Speed Classic on the pro class flat track.
Headliners at the Buffalo Chip Campground, one of the most popular for musical entertainment at the festival, this year includes Night Ranger on Saturday, Aug. 5, Shinedown on Sunday, Aug. 6, the Doobie Brothers on Monday, Aug. 7, Lynyrd Skynyrd on Tuesday, Aug. 8, Ozzy Osbourne on Wednesday, Aug. 9, Blink-182 and George Thorogood and the Destroyers on Thursday, Aug. 10, All That Remains and Madame Mayhem on Friday, Aug. 11, and Blue Oyster Cult on Saturday, Aug. 12.
It’s not known how many will be attending this year’s rally, said Steele, but it’s hard to beat the close to 739,000 that attended the 75th anniversary in 2015. Some put the crowd that year at close to 1 million.
Estimates for this year vary from numbers comparable to last year’s 76th rally estimate of 463,000, to approaching the average attendance of 500,000 to 600,000.
“So hard to say on the crowd size,” said Steele. ” Campgrounds are reporting from 10 percent to 20 percent up for reservations. Last year was really down so nearly anything will easily beat 2016. I would expect numbers to creep up each year to the 80th anniversary.”
The rally, which sees its share of tragedy and arrests each year, had its first fatality about 6 p.m. Thursday when a 24-year-old Bettendorf, Iowa, man died 17 miles southwest of nearby Spearfish when his 2008 Harley failed to negotiate a left-hand curve on U.S. Highway 14A.
The motorcycle slid off the roadway and down an embankment. He was not wearing a helmet and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The name of the person is not being released pending notification of family members. He was the only person involved.
Daily reports of accidents and arrests are given by officials each day.