2016 Highlights: The Best from The Best Party Anywhere®!

By Mary Panerio

During the 35th anniversary of The Best Party Anywhere, the authentic traditions that have become centerpiece to the rally’s fabric and that continue to set the bar for years to follow allowed guests like you to enjoy more motorcycles, music, freedom and camaraderie than ever before. 2016 was yet another perfect example where explosive new activities and experiences at the Chip elevated the rally standard in many unprecedented ways. Here are a few of the highlights folks can’t stop talking about.

Moto Stampede brings rally back to its roots in a trail of smoke and dust worth following into the future

The spirit of racing upon which rally was built, and the moto-hijinx that eventually got bikers booted from Sturgis City Park in the early 1980s were both alive and well at the Chip on Wednesday, Aug. 10 during the first ever Buffalo Chip Moto Stampede.

Spectators stood in awe as world-class hot-rod motorcycles flashed past at insane speeds down the brand new asphalted Main Street that bisects the amphitheater during the Buffalo Chip’s Street Drag Invitational with Crazy John. The crowd then received another shot of pure adrenaline as the action shifted to the dirt flat track directly in front of the Wolfman Jack Main Stage for Roland Sands Design’s Super Hooligan Races presented by Indian Motorcycle. Brakes were optional as racers including Roland Sands and Carey Hart tore up the track in a series of heats that left the track smoking.

Guests avoid time stuck in traffic by traveling to and from the party on the brand new Fort Meade Way

Whether you were headed to the Buffalo Chip to set up camp for the week, riding back to your campsite after an afternoon cruise through the hills or just coming out for a concert, the new road connecting I-90 exit 37 to the Buffalo Chip saved you and other riders from countless hours stuck in the traffic gridlock that’s plagued downtown Sturgis for decades.

Fans flock to the biggest kickoff party in Buffalo Chip history to spend the evening with living legend Willie Nelson

Throngs of fans like you pulled bikes up to the Buffalo Chip’s Wolfman Jack Stage during all nine nights of the festival to rev for the lineup of world-class performers. But never before have so many of you flooded into amphitheater for the festival’s kickoff party like you did on Friday, Aug. 5 for living legend Willie Nelson.

Indian Motorcycle unveils the race-ready FTR750 at Buffalo Chip Industry Party

Over 600 leading motorcycle industry professionals, celebrities, dignitaries and media members gathered at the Buffalo Chip Event Center on Sunday, Aug. 7 for the annual Industry Party. The event kicked off with a sneak preview of the Buffalo Chip’s 2016 Motorcycles As Art Exhibit, “Skin & Bones: Tattoo Inspired Motorcycles and Art,” curated by Michael Lichter, and it concluded with Indian Motorcycle’s highly anticipated reveal of their new FTR750.

The FTR750 unveiling represents Indian’s first reentry into the professional race circuit since the 1950s. Two surviving racers of the original Indian Wrecking Crew who raced Indians until it went belly up in 1953, Bobby Hill and Bill Tuman, were present to bring Indian’s racing history full circle at the Chip.

Crowds gathered around to get a first glimpse of this all-new race bike ready to tear up the dirt track.

Celebrities turn out to help bikers raise big bucks for worthy charities

Some of the biggest names in bike building, business, television and movies turned out to ride with you and help raise funds for worthy causes during the Buffalo Chip’s premier charity event, the Legends Ride®, on Monday, Aug. 8. Actor Tom Berenger and writer/actor/producer/director Carmine Cangialosi (pictured above) were among the lineup of special guests taking part in the event to raise funds for South Dakota Special Olympics Rapid City Flame, the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and the Buffalo Chip Challenge™ Technical Education Scholarship Fund.

In addition to the funds raised during the Legends Ride, donations made by generous bikers like you during the Biker Belles® Ride on Tuesday, Aug. 9 and Freedom Celebration Ride® on Thursday, Aug. 11 put the Buffalo Chip’s total charitable giving at a figure over $600,000.

Kid Rock and loyal fans weather the storm

When the anticipation and electricity in the air prior to the main stage performances on Sunday, Aug. 7 sparked an epic South Dakota thunderstorm, other bands and other fans might have called it a night. But not Kid Rock. The American Badass earned his title once more by sticking out the storm to perform a full show to a charged up crowd after a nearly two-hour rain delay.

Your photos unveiled in new By Bikers, For Bikers® mural

Throughout the decades, millions of bikers like you have made the party at the Legendary Buffalo Chip what it is today. As a way of saying thank you, the Chip spent months collecting photos of guests and their rides to include in the 2016 By Bikers, For Bikers® mural. This larger-than-life photo mosaic now hanging at the Big Engine Bar at the Buffalo Chip CrossRoads contains nearly 4,800 photos of bikers like you that come together to depict antique motorcycle racer Brittney Olsen participating in the Biker Belles Ride. Brittney was all smiles during 2016’s Biker Belles registration when the Buffalo Chip surprised her with the mural’s unveiling.

Lineup of bike shows during the Sturgis Rally prove custom culture is thriving at the Chip

Five days of bike shows outside the Big Engine Bar at the Buffalo Chip’s CrossRoads gave you an up-close look at the some of the most clever, captivating and curious creations on today’s custom motorcycle scene. Shows included the Full Throttle Magazine Bike Show, Sportster Showdown, Easyriders Bike Show, and the world-famous Rat’s Hole.

WWII Army Veteran Bob Hanson takes part in Freedom Celebration at age 97

There was hardly a dry eye in the audience when Bob Hanson was wheeled out on stage to honor Gary Wetzel, Glen Silva, Robin Andersen, Benito Olsen and Keith Marshall during the Buffalo Chip’s Freedom Celebration on Thursday, Aug. 11. At age 97, this WWII Army veteran took great pride in being able to present these brave individuals with the award that bears his name, the Bob Hanson Distinguished Service Award.

Campers pull out all the stops to create the coolest campsite

Decked out campsites across the Buffalo Chip turned heads, got laughs and helped forge new friendships thanks to the first-ever Buffalo Chip Block Party Challenge. The competition was stiff as campers gave it everything to prove theirs was the most imaginative, fun and friendly campsites.

The Woody’s Choice Award for friendliest campsite went to JC’s military compound on Veteran’s Road. For 16 years, this crew of campers has been welcoming military veterans to their site, offering them a place to pitch a tent, plates piled high with hearty food and a hand in friendship. JC says the site serves between 40 and 50 people each night, and that number grows with each passing Sturgis Rally. Flags representing each branch of service flew over this campsite, and playful, hand-painted, road signs showed where everyone in the compound was from.

Not ready to say goodbye to the fond memories you made during The Best Party Anywhere? You don’t have to! Start planning to make more by reserving your spot for 2017. Passes are on sale now!

What were some of your highlights from your time spent at The Best Party Anywhere during the 2016 Sturgis Rally? Share your stories in the comments below!