Fast Bikes, Fresh Air, & Freedom
By: Governor Kristi Noem
August 12, 2022
For more than 80 years, late summer has brought thousands of motorcycles to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Bikers come from across the country – and around the world – to participate in the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. They bring with them their money, supporting our local businesses and helping our state revenues. And they enjoy the beauty and freedom that South Dakota has to offer.
This happens every year, so it should not have been remarkable that it happened two years ago in August 2020 – but it was. At that time, the rest of the nation remained shut down. South Dakota had already drawn headlines for our unique approach to the pandemic. But the media scrutiny reached another level when bikers did what they had always done and rode out to South Dakota to enjoy our freedom and fresh air. Liberals across the country predicted a “superspreader” event. Flawed studies were drummed up to back this breathless allegation. The criticism was repeated so often that everyone assumed it was true.
Of course, the allegation was false. Even the CDC’s data only tied fewer than 500 cases to the rally. But this false allegation was repeated so often because the media needed it to be true. If events like Sturgis could go on without a major pandemic fallout, then the media’s entire narrative about the pandemic must be false. If states like South Dakota could thrive without mandates and lockdowns, then why were schools and businesses still closed in big cities and liberal states?
By repeating the lie again and again, the media unwittingly made Sturgis into something bigger – something more. They made it a banner of Freedom, and they made every rider at the Rally a carrier of that banner. The Rally already had that connotation. It was always about the biker’s mentality – individualism and love for the open road and fresh air. Most Rally attendees will quickly tell you that the government should not be telling you how to live your life. But it took on a far deeper meaning after the attacks by the liberal media.
As a result, the 2021 Rally was one of the biggest in history, and this year’s Rally has been above average, as well, despite the highest gas prices in American history. More American flags are waving at the event.
I attended this year’s Rally, participating in the Legends Ride and a charity auction to benefit causes like helping victims of human trafficking. Countless riders thanked me for providing an example that Freedom works – for giving them a place to come and be free.
I always knew that South Dakota could be an example for the nation. I didn’t necessarily expect that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally would be part of setting that example, but today it certainly is. And I’m glad that it is. After all, I love what the Rally stands for: fast bikes, fresh air, and Freedom.