By GWEN SISSON
The event may not be so hot this year, but everyone will have an amazing time.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is moving to the weekend of Oct. 7 ro 9 to provide a little relief from Mississippi’s August heat.
Donny Hanson, president of the Sturgis South Motorcycle Rally Board, said from all indications, the fans are excited about the change to cooler weather.
“Some are concerned about other events happening during the month of October, but the rally attendance has been going down each year for the last couple of years and the majority of the concerns we hear about is the heat,” Hanson said.
By changing the date to October this year, the Rally is getting away from the first week Mississippi State University students are returning to campus, with the hope of welcoming more students to the event.
“Although this new date is during football season, the scheduled MSU football game for this new week is an away game, and we anticipate that the number of football fans that will go to the away game will not hurt our attendance any more than the heat factor that has plagued us in the past,” Hanson said.
Henson said the primary reason for the change is financial reasons.
“The rally pays for the entertainment, trash services, porta-john services, and security services from the rally registration and ticket sales,” Hanson said.
“This income has been dwindling for the past few years. The rally has cost more to produce than the registration and ticket sales have brought in.
“In order to produce a rally that is an attraction to people to attend, we have got to keep spending the money that it takes to get the entertainment to Sturgis, so the one request that we have heard thru the years, has been to have the rally at a cooler time of the year. So this year we are trying to please the people that have quit coming to the rally because of the heat.”
One of the founding reasons for organizing the rally, was about raising money for local charities.
Hanson said event organizers continue to be dedicated to raising money for charity.
“In turn for the attendance increasing, the local business profit from this event,” Hanson said.
“While the bikers are in town they spend money at the restaurants and motels. This money spent is carried over to the cities in the surrounding area thru taxes.
“If you look at the Starkville tax reports that the Starkville Daily News has been publishing for the last several years, the month of August has been one of the top tax months for the entire year. So we feel like the rally has been a benefit to the communities as much if not more that the rally itself. But the rally is in financial trouble if we do not do something to increase the attendance.”
Hanson said right now the only changes currently in place is the date, and the elimination of the Thursday evening opening.
“We tried the Thursday evening opening last year and it was not to our expectations, and it cost us more money than it brought in,” Hanson said. “We are also working on some things concerning the vendors and a few other aspects of the rally that we are not at liberty to discuss at the present time.”
Hanson said local residents can help keep the rally successful by paying the registration fee and attending the concerts and events.
“This income is what pays the bills,” Hanson.
“Some people say that they do not care about the concerts, but they want to come see all the bikes and vendors. The rally board has an obligation to the Town of Sturgis to keep the city clean and presentable to all attendees of the rally.
“In order to do this we have to insure the safety of the town and everyone attending the rally. We also have to supply porta-john service as well as trash service. The people that do not care about the concerts are still using the trash service and porta-john service during their visit to Sturgis.
“Therefore it is at the Rally’s expense, with out any compensation from the attendees. The registration pays for these services. The concerts are a bonus.”
For more information about the 2011 Sturgis South Motorcycle Rally, visit the website at http://www.sturgismsrally.com .