2005 Sturgis Rally Gone and 2006 Sturgis Rally has Begun
August 21, 2005
Howdy. 2005's gone and we're now working on 2006. It's time for a review. This will be rather lengthy and is intended to cover all the points that come to mind. It'll be chronological, as much as possible. So I begin pre-rally. Or, rather, post-2004 rally.
2004 ended in a whirlwind, which means that for the crew it didn't end at all. The crew just kept working. Immediately there was the cleanup, storage of signs and equipment and then winterization so everything doesn't break when it turns cold. There are about two miles of water lines to blow out and dozens of water heaters to drain. And buildings to seal up. And dozens of pieces of equipment to service and repair.
That done, a multitude of projects were commenced and worked while as weather and surface conditions permitted. The crew began construction of an approximate 50 additional outhouses on the bad weather days. 1800 gallon concrete vaults were built. Holes were dug and the vaults set and outhouses set atop them.
Throughout the autumn, on the good days, they did the survey for about 2 miles of sewer line and a sewage lagoon so the showers and flush toilets could work without pump trucks. Ultimately the plans were submitted to the State for approval, trenches were dug, the sewer lines were placed, a couple of acres were dug and lined with bentonite for the lagoon, and it was completed 4 days before the rally. It worked.!
Fences were moved to enlarge the camping and amphitheater areas, adding approximately 2 miles of chain link.
The PBR rodeo arena was built.
An additional approximate 1½ miles of electrical line was put in place. Three additional electrical transformers were installed so the camp would have sufficient power. We trenched another almost 3 miles in order to bring Fibercom telephone and internet lines to the campground.
A scraper, dozer and blade were utilized to level 4 terraces in the amphitheater was terraced. The terraces were leveled. Tens of thousands of tons of gravel was hauled in, leveled and packed to reduce dust and mud. The scraper was also utilized to level about 20 acres east of the east box office to create more usable space. All disturbed soils were seeded to minimize erosion and dust.
I-90's Exit 32 was being rebuilt. The construction company that tore out the old asphalt sold us the asphalt and stockpiled it in a mountain created on the newly leveled east end. A grinder was brought in and the asphalt was ground into more than 100 tons of usable asphalt which was applied to approximately 2½ miles of campground roadways and the part of the amphitheater in front of the Harley-Davidson store. The packer then did its thing at about 2 mph.
We'd said we'd eliminate the traffic congestion on the roadway and the lines experienced at the box office in 2004 and so a new entrance was built on the west end of the property, entering off 131st Avenue. We constructed 9 new approaches so traffic could get off the road more easily. Then we left about 30 acres for a parking lot and staging area in front of the new box office that was constructed. The new box office had 10 teller windows and 10 tellers on staff. There was no traffic jam in 2005 and there was no waiting in line for registration or ticket purchase.
A new chlorination treatment system was installed for the entire campground. All water systems were re-routed so they were fed from the main well and the water tower, utilizing the other two wells and storage tanks for backup. This would provide better and more consistent water pressure throughout the miles of water lines utilized on the campgrounds. The increased pressure, however, exposed numerous weak spots in the system, which required digging up and repairing the water lines.
Showers were cleaned, sanitized and the floors painted. I really thought they looked good. I thought the 3 million BTU boilers had been installed in place of the water heaters to insure hot water would be available at all times while not risking a scalding incident. It turns out that I was misinformed and they were not. One of them wasn't installed until the Rally was almost over and the other wasn't installed until after 2005's Rally. However, I have been assured they've been tested and are working for 2006.
Plumbing, electrical and sewer was installed for temporary shower vendors to serve as backup or simply to offer the campers a more private and perhaps more convenient alternative.
And they did a lot more, but let's talk about the Rally, because that's what we're all about and because it just kept getting closer and closer until one day people started showing up. Then more people. Then vendors. Then more people. Then news people. Then television people. The hurricane had struck.
The 10 windows at the west box office and the 8 lanes of admission into the campground worked very well. Campers adjusted to the one-way traffic pattern very readily and things went really smoothly, though hectic.
The Chip's first major show was on the Friday preceding the "official" date of the Rally's beginning. The beginning headliner was Shinedown, a young and current rock act that performed a great act for an opening show. The band was stoked and loved the crowd, saying they'll return because they love the feeling they got from the audience.
Saturday was the Day Of Legends, a promotion by Jack Daniel's Old No. 7. We also had the Official Jack Daniel's Birthday Party at the new Jack Daniel's bar. The JD folks brought out 3000 birthday cakes and Robbie Knievel signed autographs while Toni autographed her new book, Chip Shots. Dickey Betts recreated the sounds he wrote and played for the Allman Brothers Band and we all were in fact treated to a great Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Famer's show.
Sunday was another great day. Day-campers showed they understood the traffic pattern for parking at the campground's east end and used the East Box Office, again without lines. It was the first of 4 shows for the PBR's World Championship Bull Riding and was followed by 3 phenomenal artists. Dustin Evans opened on the Miller Time Stage in front of the Harley-Davidson Store. Keith Anderson, the second most eligible bachelor in country music, opened on the main stage, followed by Tim McGraw. The crowd loved the show, and it was an awesome crowd. And the ladies - oh my gosh! Tim McGraw is hot. Peter Fonda, Billy Lane and others attended.
Sunday night the main well's pump saver went out and the water tower emptied. We went on reserve overnight without any camper knowing of the problem. The manufacturer had staff on site Monday morning and it was fixed before noon.
Monday was the PBR's 2nd show, followed by the US Air Force and US Army Golden Knights providing us with a low altitude flyover of a B1 Bomber and the Golden Knights parachuting onto a target placed immediately in front of the main stage. One of the Knights brought custom bike builder and celebrity Billy Lane down from the sky with him. Billy looked like he handled the parachute jump with ease.
The military presentation concluded with a tribute to the American Military man with a presentation of an American Flag to Michael Fitzmaurice, who'd earned the Medal of Honor by throwing 2 grenades back at the Viet Cong and throwing his body over a third to save his buddies.
Sunset saw the spreading of the ashes over the Campground of one of the Chip's loyal fans. Holy ground.
The Classic Rock All Stars began the music for the evening. These guys put on one of the best shows in rock. I recommend you go out of your way to see them. They're the key personnel from Iron Butterfly, Blues Image, Rare Earth, Sugarloaf, and Cannibal & the Headhunters. They were part of the birth of the rock we all love and they still live it and play it.
The Classic Rock All Stars, Carolyn Wonderland and our poster model, Jenn all made trips to the Fort Meade Veterans Administration Hospital to shake hands and greet the vets. Carolyn and her guitarist Scott played an impromptu acoustic set that ended up lasting more than an hour. Jenn spent more than two hours greeting the vets, holding their hands and autographing her poster. We thank them.
Creedence Clearwater Revisited closed the evening with a stellar performance of their many hits. It was an awesome show and they did 3 well deserved encores. It's difficult to recall an audience that was more appreciative of a band, and the band was able to keep coming back with even more hits.
Journey was the same way on Tuesday. Instead of the typical show they chose to do a 3½ hour career retrospective. Who knew anyone had that many hits? And, even after 3½ hours, the crowd demanded multiple encores and they had still more hits to perform. Very impressive.
Wednesday was cool, which was a welcome relief from the intense 100 plus degree heat suffered through Tuesday. The nights had been perfect, but the days hot. And, dry lightning had started forest fires about 5 miles from the Chip, so the smoke in the air made breathing somewhat difficult in the heat of the day.
The Jack Daniel's bar's deck was the site of the World Championship Grilled Cheese Sandwich Eating Contest, sanctioned by the International Association of Competitive Eaters. The $1000 prize money was won by a Rapid City man who qualified for further competitive eating events around the country. It turned out to be a lot of fun. And, complete with security guards, they displayed the "Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich" which really does have the image of a woman on it. Will wonders never cease?
It rained Wednesday evening. I intend to write the Pope to have Toby Keith sainted. It rained and rained. It was raining when he started his show. He and the band were soaked by the end of the first song. They kept singing in the rain and the audience kept dancing in the rain. Lightning moved in and was firing off all around and still Toby kept it up, totally ignoring the weather. He did a complete show in the rain while some of his set was blowing away. It was a performance folks will not forget, and probably won't quit talking about.
The rain and mud didn't help with the toilet cleaning crew. They got further behind and it took a couple days to get caught up, if ever they did completely. But, otherwise things went great and the next thing we knew it was time for the Steve Miller Band.
However, first Miller Lite got to award a brand new Harley-Davidson to the proud winner of the Buffalo Chip - Miller Lite promotion. 20 semi-finalists were given keys and the suspense was on while each tried to demonstrate he had the one that would start it up. This particular proud winner promptly sold his prize for too-little cash and two winners left with a huge smiles on their faces. Miller Lite - proud sponsor of the Legendary Buffalo Chip and promoter of many smiles on and off the campground.
I hope you'd read what I'd said about Steve Miller on the website before the Rally. Not to take anything away from the other performers, but Steve Miller is one cool guy. Journey, for example, showed up with something like 9 truckloads of equipment. Likewise Toby Keith. Steve Miller showed up with a guitar.
I like the occasional stage where there's nothing on it but the star, and I liked the stage with only the Steve Miller Band on it. No distractions or additions were needed. He brought that guitar for a reason and by golly he played it. Prior to the show, Steve had told me the last time he'd played for a bunch of bikers it was just a bunch of old people that couldn't remember what a party was all about. Well, you made him want to come back. He and the whole band were ecstatic. They just couldn't believe what a great audience the Chippers are. And for us - Wow! What a show!
We had a little fire incident Thursday night. Instead of lightning, a neighbor's haystack burned up. The water trucks and fire department insured it did not spread to the Chip. The Chip will still pay a reward for information leading to the identification of whoever was setting off fireworks that night.
Thursday also introduced us to the all-time World Champion Pickle Lickin' Federation's champion. We knew something was up when she asked if she could remove her dentures prior to the competition . . . .
Friday was still cool and had a weather forecast that it was going to rain all night. We don't much care for such forecasts. Queensryche had actually ridden their bikes out from Seattle. They played before co-headliners Disturbed. These folks have serious fans. Folks were coming into the amphitheater in halter tops and cutoffs without rain gear while it was raining. It quit raining and the shows were phenomenal. And Disturbed, just like every other band, was so impressed with the audience that they ranted and raved about how they loved it and wanted to return. We thank you for that.
Oops. I almost neglected to mention Porky's Custom Choppers had finished the first Buffalo Chip Custom Bike. More than just "pretty cool", these buffalo-spoked wheels, powered by 115 hp, etc., are going to roll. All raffle proceeds went to the Children's Craniofacial Association. The winner was Russ Narzinski of St. Louis. Russ, I hope to see you riding that powerhouse at future rallies.
And there was an extra-special touch to this promotion. Limo driver, Bruce Tyrrell, who seldom sees the amphitheater because he's getting the bands to the show from their hotel rooms, airports, etc., sacrificed 14 inches of his pony tail as a fundraiser for CCA ($3200 was raised). The hair went to Locks of Love where it will be turned into wigs for chemotherapy patients.
Saturday is the close. It's family day, if you will. The headliner was Twisted Sister, and they brought the music to a close in a kick-ass hard rockin' tribute to American music.
Then we closed with the winner of the Ms. Buffalo Chip Hawaiian Tropic model, 25 year old Rebecca Ruiz-Vela from Newport Beach California, being awarded $1000 cash and a free trip to Hawaii to compete in the Ms. Hawaiian Tropic International United States Pageant Finals at the Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu, Hawaii. We had more and more beautiful ladies at the Chip this year than ever before. And we like that. Yes!
Enough already. Thanks for reading this far. Now we're on toward 2006. We'll be booking acts as soon as they'll confirm. We'll be working to make the physical plant of the Campgrounds work better for you. We'll announce progress in the newsletters.
Thanks for coming. Thanks for making the artists know this is a special place. And thanks for all the kind words of appreciation and the friendship of so many. It makes it all worth doing. We look forward to seeing you again in August.