Southern Hills towns buzzing with bikers
Published: Thursday, August 9th, 2012
Heavy motorcycle traffic is reported at all Southern Hills towns for the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally and most businesses are doing well.
The Governor’s and Sturgis Mayor’s Ride passed through Keystone Monday morning and Custer about 12:30 p.m., creating heavy traffic in those areas as the group of hundreds of motorcycle riders headed to the State Game Lodge in Custer State Park for lunch.
The barricades for motorcyle-only parking in the center lanes of Mt. Rushmore in Custer went up Thursday, Aug. 2. They immediately started filling in and were packed by Sunday.
Brian Boyer at the Buglin’ Bull in Custer said last Friday and Saturday were slow, but things picked up on Sunday. “It seems like the bikers showed up on Sunday (Aug. 5),” Boyer said.
Sam Schultz at Cattleman’s Steakhouse is experiencing his 35th rally year and said this one “seems pretty good,” although there don’t seem to be as many bikers.
“I’d say we are up over last year. It really started Sunday. We had three slow days before that as families were leaving,” Schultz said.”
He said the adjacent Dark Horse Restaurant was also a little ahead of last year.
“We still have a few families here. The motels have more cars than bikes in the morning. The bikers eat at different times, so that helps,” Schultz said.
Lodging reports in Custer seemed to be a mixed bag. Joe Jackl at the Bavarian Motel said, “The weekend was busier than today (Monday). The week looks a little soft, but the end of the week looks good. This is exactly the opposite of what it usually is for the rally,” he said.
“August is pretty much the same as it was last year,” said John Fejfar, general manager of MPS, which includes the Holiday Inn Express, Best Western, Super 8, Comfort Inn and Econolodge in Custer.
“July was good. We were up about 11 percent from last year, but it still wasn’t as good as 2010,” Fejfar said.
“It’s nothing like the rally used to be. So many more rooms have been built in Rapid City and Deadwood. I don’t think it ever will be what it used to be, but it is what it is,” he said.
“Downtown has been swamped since this morning,” said Hill City Chamber of Commerce director Deb Bruce Monday afternoon. Hill City has motorcycle parking only on its main street again this year.
“It seems like there are more bikers than last year at this time. Almost everyone who comes in here (visitor center) has said that they are going to Hill City to eat. I would think the restaurants are doing well, but there is no ‘concrete’ word from them directly,” Bruce said.
“Keystone is experiencing good traffic this morning as we have all weekend,” said Bonetta Eich-Nedved, Keystone Chamber of Commerce executive director last Monday morning, Aug. 6.
“Traffic at times is backed up from the light up the hill coming into town. We have a parking lot reserved for motorcyles only that offers free three-hour parking and has been full most days of the weekend, as well as parking on Keystone along Highway 16A and Swanzey Street,” Eich-Nedved said.
“The motel reservations are hit and miss for openings with a day here or there, but for the most part are running full through this week. The Department of Transportation has also been monitoring traffic flow through Keystone along Highway 16A,” she said.
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