Buffalo Chip Traditions That’ll Make You Feel at Home

By Mary Panerio

For those who come to the Buffalo Chip every year, you know that there might be rain, and your tent fly could blow away, and if both happened on the same night your neighbors would throw you a towel and a beer and help you find the humor in the situation. Yes, a trek to the Best Party Anywhere™ can be full of exciting surprises that give you great stories to tell, but it’s some of the familiar things you know you can count on year after year that truly make the Buffalo Chip feel like home and its people feel like family. Check out some of these great traditions developed over the years by some of the Chip’s seasoned guests to see for yourself!

1. Crazy George’s Tradition

“I have a collage sculpture that’s a work in progress that gets added to every year. It’s open to everybody to add something on. People bring me something personal that represents them—a leather item, a coin, a broken piece of a motorcycle—and we attach it. I love watching people come up with a friend and say, ‘See that keychain? That’s mine.’ “

– Crazy George, Artist in Residence

2. Cyril Huze’s Tradition

“Although extremely busy reporting during the day and writing the news at night, one of my favorite things to do is to take many breaks just to watch people. During the rally, my daily professional schedule takes me many times to the Buffalo Chip or to events it organizes or sponsors. From the campground, to the concerts, to the Legends Ride to the Biker Belles, to Lichter’s Motorcycle As Art Exhibition, I don’t miss any opportunity to watch how riders dress, wonder about the bike they ride, play the game of guessing their professions in their life when they are not Sturgis attendees.”

– Cyril Huze, Cyril Huze Blog

3. Hank Rotten’s Tradition

“Coming to the Buffalo Chip is a great tradition I share with my son. I’m going for my 29th year this year, and he’s been coming for 27 of them. The trip there in itself is a lot of fun, cause take a different route to see something new every time. When we arrive we always take a walk together to see what’s new that wasn’t there last year.”

– Hank Rotten, Main Stage Emcee

4. Johnny Van Zant’s Tradition

“I always love looking around and checking out all the cool bikes people are riding.”

– Johnny Van Zant, Lynyrd Skynyrd

5. The Living Deads’ Tradition

“Our tradition is to force our kidnappee to do the midnight endurance ride while we take pictures and humiliate him.”

– Symphony and Randee, The Living Deads

6. Rod Woodruff’s Tradition

“Every year I make a point to walk around and visit with the people who show up early. Once the event gets rolling, I tend to get pretty busy, but when I’ve got the time I really enjoy welcoming these folks and thanking them for joining the party.”

– Rod Woodruff, Sturgis Buffalo Chip President

7. Marilyn Stemp’s Tradition

“I started coming to the Buffalo Chip as part of my job covering the Sturgis Rally for IronWorks, running from place to place nonstop, morning till night. But in 2002 or 2003 I realized I’d been missing an opportunity to enjoy the experience. So I began choosing one night to stay at the Buffalo Chip and hear the bands – purely as a fan. One evening out of a frenzied week to recharge, relax and just be a Chipster. It made such a difference – not only in my attitude but in my understanding of why riders come to the Chip. And I’ve done that every year since.”

– Marilyn Stemp, Iron Trader News Editor

8. Jennie Stilton’s Tradition

“My husband and I met at the Chip, and got married there! Regardless of the actual date, the Thursday of the rally is our anniversary, so every year we dress in our wedding clothes and re-trace our steps from our wedding day. We ride to Deadwood for lunch, stop at one bar, and then head back to the Chip to party all night!”

– Jennie Stilton, Longtime Chip Guest & Buffalo Chip Panty Party Cofounder

9. John Shope’s Tradition

“Hanging at the Buffalo Chip has been a long time tradition for the Dirty Bird crew. Often times it’s the unscheduled events that make the craziest memories. From badass concerts to barely covered women zip lining over your head, one thing’s for sure, you never know what you’re going to see at the Buffalo Chip.”

– John Shope, Dirty Bird Concepts

10. Charlie Brechtel’s Tradition

“I definitely love seeing Woody and the whole family every year. Every year the Buffalo Chip is my motorcycle Mardi Gras.”

– Charlie Brechtel, Bikers Inner Circle

11. Captain Jack’s Tradition

“I used to own a chrome plating shop, and I would plate pennies to take with me when I went out on sales calls. When I started coming to the Chip, I started bringing the silver pennies with me and walking around looking for ‘Sturgins’ to give them to. When I give the pennies out I give a spiel about them bringing good karma and rattle off the names of all the famous people who’ve received one over the years.“As I’m giving my spiel, more people usually walk up to see what’s going on, and I’ll give them one too. Then I go around to each person there and ask them what happened in their lives during the year that’s on their penny, which gets people telling stories about themselves. That’s when I walk away. It’s really cool. At the end of the rally, people start coming up and thanking me for introducing them to the people that they ended up riding and partying with all week.”

Captain Jack, Social Lubricant

12. Diva Amy’s Tradition

“My annual trip is full of traditions, from stopping to visit one of my favorite mechanics in Sundance, Wyoming, Woody, to attending my favorite Buffalo Chip event, the Biker Belles Ride. A great group of women (and some guys, too) from all over the U.S. and Canada come together for this event every year, and we truly cherish our time together! We all get to enjoy a little pampering in the Team Diva Comfort Zone, and it feels good to be raising money for some great causes. I always look forward to visiting with familiar friends and to making new ones.”

– Diva Amy Skaling, Team Diva

One Buffalo Chip tradition that continues to bring together fans and friends from all ages and walks of life is Lynyrd Skynyrd. This legendary band’s legacy is so much bigger than its 30 million albums sold. Take one look around the audience, and you’ll find folks ages 18 to 80 waving lighters and singing along to “Sweet Home Alabama” in blissful unison.

13. Daymon Woodruff’s Tradition

“I’ve put the party to the test pretty hard in my days. Skynyrd goes well with shotgunning beers with friends. In secret, I might even feign air guitar during ‘Freebird,’ just to remind me of when I first discovered them.”

– Daymon Woodruff, Sturgis Buffalo Chip

Find out more about Buffalo Chip tradition and the effect Skynyrd’s music has had on the Buffalo Chip experience here:

Don’t miss your chance to be part of one of the longest running Buffalo Chip traditions, and reserve your passes for Lynyrd Skynyrd on Monday, Aug. 8, 2016!

What are some of your favorite Buffalo Chip traditions? Share them in the comments below!