There were raucous crowds mixed with top tier entertainment at the “Chip” this year. Even Pee Wee Herman lived through it to write on a blog for The Huffington Post about his experience. See his video HERE. But, overall it cemented the venue as one of the better entertainment locations with an array of art, vendors, food and people gawking (responsibly of course!). The selection of musical guests resulted in one of the biggest music festivals of its kind in South Dakota. Doing a bit of name dropping, the entertainment included; Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Dylan, Kid Rock, Motley Crue, the Scorpions, ZZ Top, The Doobie Brothers, Dave Mason, Lee Rocker, Tesla, Drowning Pool, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, The Guess Who, Trailer Choir, Buckcherry, Orianthi, Stone Sour, Jason Aldean, Williams & Ree and Disturbed.
But here’s the rub… there were a lot of people going to/from the Chip. I was part of the 5 mile commute from town to the campground traffic jam that ran from the Buffalo Chip to I-90 on Tuesday night (August 10th) as rally-goers sat on over heating motorcycles for a couple of hours on what locals call the annual “biker crawl” to catch the Bob Dylan/Kid Rock show.
The Chip celebrated it’s twenty-ninth year of operation. That’s twenty-nine years of motorcyclists trapped in wicked heat and traffic grid lock. There’s no excuse for an experience like this. In Sturgis there were NO law enforcement officers directing traffic nor were there any Buffalo Chip staff. Just grid lock. What went wrong and why is there no traffic coordination? Were people improperly trained? Did too many people overwhelm the event or have budgets been cut so slim that the job can no longer be done? It’s a case of pointing fingers.
Ron Woodruff is the owner of the Buffalo Chip campground who I’m sure has great pride having overseen the tremendous growth and World Wide recognition the “Chip” has earned as one of the premier concert venues in the mid-west. Tried to correct this situation, he has and last fall he tried again to get the Meade County commissioners to take corrective action, but the commissioners defeated a Woodruff backed bill which would have set aside money to purchase land for a shortcut from the major campgrounds to I-90. I’m sure the meeting went something like this: “We don’t need no road that will only be used for two weeks out of the year. It will kill the vendors who depend on Main and Lazelle traffic for their business.”
But as a business, the Sturgis town council and the Buffalo Chip should never be happy when people attend the rally, put down hard earned money for music concerts and have a bad experience for any reason. It’s a simple situation. How many times a year can someone afford to drop $300 for two people to go to a concert, drink a few beers, eat a Gyro and buy a t-shirt? Not many. So, they need to listen to the customer and make changes. How about traffic police coordination? How about traffic alerts? Or Twitter updates on the expected delays or reasons? How about park and ride buses with express lanes? Something. Anything!
And while I’m on this rant… how about that lame video set up on the Chip stage? Hey Ron, 1979 called and said they want their VCR camcorder back! Are margins so tight that a short-term rental of a couple video JumboTrons for people to see the artists or the Miss Buffalo Chip Beauty Contest be out of question? Lastly, there use to be a TV segment on ABC called the “Fleecing of America”… I suggest a segment called the Sturgis “Fleecing of Every Motorcycle Music Fan?” You see those stop signs that help create the grid-lock, become after the Chip concert, mixed with Monkey Rock and Full Throttle motorcyclists into a law enforcement sobriety stop as police officers stood in the street wafting for alcohol with their scientifically trained nose. When they found an offence they processed tickets speedier and more efficient than the Hertz rental car return!
Were there irresponsible riders? Oh yeah, and many of those who participated a bit more than others caught a free ride out of the traffic jam. Yep, the Chip truly captures the essence of the motorcycle lifestyle, but it’s time for some changes.
Photo’s taken at the Buffalo Chip.