Whoa! Another rally has been experienced and this one gave meaning to “I survived Sturgis 2009!” What a year!
I write a little summary after every Rally just to let you know how I think it went, and this is it for 2009. Frankly, I woke up at 4 in the morning thinking weeks have passed and I haven’t gotten to it. Then I got to thinking of all the wonderful things that have happened and realized a little report would actually be a book.
I’m going to review some highlights here, but the more I thought about it, the more the book came into focus for me. I discussed it with the crew and we’re excited to be working on what we expect to be a great picture book (most of us enjoy ADHD). Meantime, even this brief summary is going to be too long. Thanks for bearing with me.
Once again we suffered an entire year of the government and media telling us how terrible things are. 2008’s news was the same way, yet we again enjoyed a record party with you again in 2008. Steve Tyler noticed and sent messages starting the very next day after the 2008 Rally telling us Aerosmith wanted to perform at the 2009 Legendary Buffalo Chip’s rally. Wow!
He didn’t say they would appear for free. We accepted the challenge of having Aerosmith party with us and pressed on. We didn’t even raise our prices and loyal Chipsters continued to make reservations at $155 for the Rally, all concerts included. Everyone seemed to want Aerosmith to appear, but how in God’s name were we ever going to be able to pay them? The terrible economic news kept coming and kept getting worse which kept me asking, “What if we throw a party and nobody comes?”
The spirit of the American Biker is tough to defeat, however. You came to the Chip early and again you brought friends in record numbers. Some of you had gaps in your employment obligations and decided you’d rather be here relaxing with other bikers than be home. We love you guys!
All you campers made the entire crew extra proud this year. We all survived 6 consecutive days of thunderstorms, one of which included a half hour of hail storm that blessed us with hailstones of various sizes ranging from pea sized to as large as a softball. They crashed right through tents, skylights and windows. If it could be dented, it was dented. Even the mirrors on my bike were destroyed. Many of you took some home in the freezer to show back home.
You kept smiling and partying through it all. Every entertainer performed around the storms. We all got wet and we stood in water to watch the shows. No wonder the artists know about the Chip and want to perform here – there’s simply no better audience for them anywhere. Thank you, thank you, thank you for just being you.
Ok, a quick review. I can’t describe all the goings on in the campground, but folks were having fun. The Black Parrot Beach was a hot spot already since July 24th and the party just kept growing with great folks and great music.
The national headliners started on Friday, July 31st, when The Classic Rock Allstars, one of the best friggin’ bands in existence, performed the first concert of the year, joined by Mark Farner a kick-ass beginning which they carried over in support of the Family Stone Project on Saturday. And “Dance To The Music” we did on into Sunday with Creedence Clearwater Revisited and George Thorogood. It was a phenomenal opening weekend and the riding weather was perfect.
The Michael Lichter Exhibit opened on Saturday – “Rebel Rousers – Icons That Inspire Us To Ride.” We were danged proud to present the ninth of this annual event to you. It was an awesome exhibit viewed by virtually every motorcycle industry person in the region, as well as celebrities such as Lorenzo Lamas, Ian Ziering and others including Pat Simmons and Steven Tyler.
Saturday the US Marines helped the Chip raise its new American flag, an 80 x 50 foot flag flown 120 feet high on flagpoles the Chip’s crew created and erected on July 28th. It is so spectacular, made even more so by flying over the 1000 flags the Healing Field set up, complete with dog tags for each US military person lost in Iraq or Afghanistan since 9/11/2001. The dedication was Saturday.
Monday was one fine day. The Legends Ride commenced with registrations, celebrity autographing and a police escort. We rode from Deadwood to loop through Vanocker Canyon to Sturgis. The Sturgis Police escorted the more than 300 motorcycles through the City of Sturgis right down Main Street at the Chip to the Lichter Exhibition Hall. It was awesome. Then there was a reception, followed by the US Marine Corps Color Guard’s presentation of the Colors for the Chip’s annual Military Tribute where Meghan McCain helped honor American hero, Winfred “Doc” Jackson while Lita Ford performed the National Anthem. Lita followed with a stellar performance as did Toby Keith, who has become part of the Buffalo Chip’s family.
The Monday night highlight, however, had to be the presentation of more than $61,000 to the Black Hills Children’s Home and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame. More than $51,000 of that was the $150 contribution each Legends Rider gave, plus the generous $10,000 gift of John Paul DeJoria (think Patron Spirits). Bikers do good again!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for making us all proud to be bikers.
So we cruised right into Tuesday. Early Tuesday the Metzeler Custom Bike Show was judged and in the early evening about 600 fine motorcycle industry folk were enjoying the Lichter Motorcycle Industry Reception when the first thunderstorm struck. It was a blessing to have the Lichter Exhibition Hall for everyone to huddle together among some of the finest motorcycles in our history. We all got to know each other better and a good time was had by all. Then Cheech & Chong made us laugh really hard and Billy Squier wound us up for a wonderful closure of what was by then a perfect evening moonlit with what tomorrow would be a full moon.
Steven Tyler had been feeling the force of the full moon for days. I am pleased to say Aerosmith’s organization and Steven Tyler personally were some of the finest, friendliest folks around. I can recall no business organization more professional or more agreeable to deal with.
The only challenge had been that Steven simply made himself too available to the public. He’d try to just be a regular person and was simply attacked by a loving public. Everywhere we went folks came at him just to touch Steven Tyler, to get an autograph, to get a picture. It was downright dangerous at times. I felt he needed more protection from an adoring public who simply wanted to be so friendly they’d unintentionally injure him in the process of trying to convey their affection (or get a souvenir).
Well, you know what happened at the show, of course. Aerosmith was putting on what’s been described as the best show of their entire career. The band was about 60 minutes into a show that probably would have lasted 60-75 minutes when a fuse blew and, while it was being changed, Steven accidentally fell off the stage and seriously injured himself. It seems like the shot heard (cell phone video seen) ‘round the world. We wish them all well and pray for Steven’s rapid and total recovery. And, just in case anyone is wondering, we’d love it if they choose to return.
Thursday’s thunderstorm met smiling campers ready for the rain to stop and Tesla and Hinder to get rolling, which they did. Great shows. And then it was Friday and the thunderstorm gods must have been angry. The warning sirens went off, and the wall of white that came at us proved to be nearly a half hour of icy fury.
Hailstones measured up to softball size and did not simply fall from the sky, but were thrown at us so hard they broke siding and windows and still bounced 3 feet off the ground. I don’t know how bikers caught on the road without a helmet survived. It was not pretty, but it was over by about 6 pm and another record crowd enjoyed The Baker Burnout, Buckcherry and Red. Clearly the weather gods could not keep the Chipsters from having a good time.
The thunderstorm gods gave it another try on Saturday, however, but again failed. The Indians danced and demonstrated against the high suicide rates on the reservations and Larry McCray and The Guess Who rocked us like only they can for what we thought was the grand finale.
The grand finale, however, were the thunderstorm gods who again made their presence known on Sunday morning. They kept many from being able to leave until mid-afternoon and by then the Chip’s crew was already deep into cleanup and planning for an even more exciting (without the weather) 2010 rally. And that’s the way it was…. As always,
Ride Free, Take Risks and we’ll see your smiling faces again next August,
Woody & Crew