Who to See During the 2010, Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Being a native of the Black Hills of South Dakota, I’ve been around for my share of Sturgis Motorcycle Rallies. Back in the 80’s, I lived and worked in Sturgis. The usual attendance numbers averaged around 50,000 visitors each year. The bikers were road weary, grimy, tattooed, a little scary, and some of the nicest people you could ever meet.

I remember working at a local diner for several years, just off  I-90 in Sturgis. One of my best memories of that time was watching the average, unsuspecting American family stop in to grab a bite to eat and hopefully find a place to stay for the night during the Rally. The look on their faces as they emerged from their car or RV was priceless. They would instinctively huddle together for safety. Dad would protectively put his hand on his children’s shoulders, as though they might be kidnapped and sold into white slavery.

Ahh, those were the days. Fast-forward 25 years to 2010. The grimy, road weary biker has become the exception rather than the rule. Today, many bikers haul their bikes to Sturgis in a trailer. Their leathers are brand new, their boots are hardly worn, and their bikes are new and spectacularly painted. For the most part, they are still a friendly group of people, but now, instead of 50,000 or so, there are 500,000 or so- give or take a 100k.

Back in the 80’s, my friends and I would get dolled up in the evenings and hit the local hangouts to catch a show, or maybe catch a cute biker. Now and then, you might find a fairly well known performer at one of the bars or campgrounds. I had to give that up when I moved away from Sturgis and had kids. My rally experience changed dramatically after that. I was no longer in the thick of things and had to live vicariously through the bikers that stayed at my mom’s place for the week. She had an old dancehall that she partitioned off into 8′ by 8′ rooms for bikers to rent during their stay. Downstairs, she offered showers for $3. The small town was just five miles from Sturgis, and she did a decent business- good enough that she hired me for the week to run things for her.

Eventually, I moved even further away from Sturgis (25 miles), and now see very little of the Rally. This year, my kids are all older teens and I decided it was time to go back to Sturgis for one night to see a concert. Just as attendance has grown over the years, so has the caliber of entertainment. I was sick of hearing about all the great shows I was missing, so I resolved to venture back into the outrageously heavy traffic of Sturgis during the Rally.

The trouble started when I began researching the upcoming concerts. See, I planned to attend one concert; make one trip into the madness (it really is a lot of fun, but if you’re not used to it, it seems like madness). When I saw some of the lineups, I actually had chills run through my body. I have the opportunity at long last to see the one and only, the great, Bob Dylan! I know I will likely never have this chance again. But…I could also see my favorite band from my youth, the Scorpions! But what about what I’m into now? I could bypass the classics and see Godsmack, Three Days Grace, Disturbed, Stone Temple Pilots, 3 Doors Down, but OMG! How can I pass up Bob Dylan? Guns ‘N Roses will play their first U.S. show in nine years in Sturgis, the only U.S. show they have planned for this year!

Sturgis has multiple concert venues, including the world renowned Buffalo Chip Campground (arguably the best of the venues), the Broken Spoke Campground, the Full Throttle Saloon, and the Rock N Rev Festival. I’m not sure how I’ll decide who to see, but I’ve compiled a list of some of the best shows by date and location that I will share with anyone who might be facing the same dilemma. It’s possible that you will be able to see more than one show, unlike myself, but I know you can’t be in more than one place at one time!

August 6th, 2010

Buffalo Chip Campground

10:00 P.M   Lee Rocker (Stray Cats)

10:30 P.M.  Dave Mason (from Traffic)

August 7th, 2010

Buffalo Chip Campground

08:30 P.M.      Drowning Pool

10:30 P.M.      Tesla

The Broken Spoke Campground

06:00 P.M.      Blackfoot

August 8th, 2010

Buffalo Chip Campground

08:30 P.M.      The Guess Who

10:30 P.M.      Creedence Clearwater Revisited

The Broken Spoke Campground

09:00 P.M.      .38 Special

August 9th, 2010

Buffalo Chip Campground

08:30 P.M.      Buckcherry

10:30 P.M.      ZZ Top

Full Throttle Saloon

07:00 P.M.      Joe Santana

Scarlet Haze

08:00 P.M.      Brother Clyde featuring Billy Ray Cyrus

The Broken Spoke Campground

09:00 P.M.      Great White


Rock N Rev Festival

08:00 P.M.      Godsmack

Three Days Grace


Darling Stilettos

August 10th, 2010

Buffalo Chip Campground

07:30 P.M.      Orianthi

08:30 P.M.      Bob Dylan!!!!!

The Broken Spoke Campground

06:00 P.M.      Black Oak Arkansas

Eddie Money

Rock N Rev Festival

08:00 P.M.      Creed


August 11, 2010

Buffalo Chip Campground

08:30 P.M.      Stone Sour

10:30 P.M.      Motley Crue

Full Throttle Saloon

09:00 P.M.      Marshall Tucker Band

The Broken Spoke Campground

06:00 P.M.      Confederate Railroad



Rock N Rev Festival

08:00 P.M.      Cage the Elephant

Stone Temple Pilots


Eagles of Death Metal

August 12, 2010

Buffalo Chip Campground

08:30 P.M.      Jason Aldean

10:30 P.M.      Ozzy Osbourne

The Broken Spoke Campground

06:00 P.M.      The Kentucky Headhunters

Black Stone Cherry

Rock N Rev Festival

08:00 P.M.      Hinder

3 Doors Down

August 13, 2010

Buffalo Chip Campground

08:30 P.M.      Disturbed

10:30 P.M.      The Scorpions!!!

Full Throttle Saloon

07:00 P.M.      Joe Santana

Scarlet Haze

Rock N Rev Festival

08:00 P.M.      Alice In Chains

August 14th, 2010

Buffalo Chip Campground

08:30 P.M.      Williams & Ree (Comedy duo, a.k.a. the Indian and the White Guy, excellent)

10:30 P.M.      The Doobie Brothers

Full Throttle Saloon

08:00 P.M.      Ice T

I suppose you can now see my dilemma, and to be honest, this is only a partial listing of shows. I pulled out the names I was familiar with. For a complete listing, visit the Sturgis or Sturgis Rally website.

There are other things to see at the Sturgis Rally besides concerts. For instance, the Buffalo Chip Campground has a nightly Guitar Hero contest, burn out contests, best tattoo contests…

You can also see plenty of racing; after all, it used to be called the Sturgis Rally & Races. Even with all the great concerts, sometimes “people watching” in Sturgis is the best show of all.

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