Things were revving up in Union County, Kentucky Thursday as bikers from across the country rode into town for the 30th Sturgis Kentucky Bike Rally.
The three-day event is held annually in the small town of Sturgis every third weekend of July. It features bike shows and events, live music and vendors all located on the Union County Campgrounds.
“Oh I love it, I couldn’t wait," said local biker Richard Turner. "They come from everywhere; I see them down in Daytona Beach, I’ll see them across the river there in Illinois.”
The rally is a welcome return for many after the pandemic led to a disappointing cancelation last year. For Turner, who's been going for 15 years, it's a long-awaited reunion.
“Bikers, everybody’s friends. Everybody helps each other," he said. "You break down, they help you, they put you back on the road. They haul you home, whatever it takes, they help you.”
While the event means a weekend of fun for the hot rods, it’s also a major moneymaker for the community. More than 6,500 people attended in 2019.
“The city gets money from it, the fairground gets money from it, the airport gets money from it, all the stores," Rally Owner Carlene Thomas said. "All the hotels all the way to Madisonville and Evansville, Paducah are booked.”
Thomas said when the event was called off last year, it was a big loss, but now that it’s back, organizers hope people will feel comfortable coming out again and help to beat 2019's numbers.
“It just means a lot to have this money come into our community and help the businesses and the stores to keep going," she said. "It’s been a tough year.”
Based on Thursday's turnout, that's exactly what the bikers intend to do, letting the good times roll at the largest motorcycle event in the Bluegrass.
“Wherever you go to a bike rally it’s one big party,” Turner said. “Everybody has fun, there’s never no trouble. It’s amazing how we all get along.”
The event is adult-only and no one under 21 is allowed in. Online ticket sales have closed but you can still buy tickets at the gate.
The rally does create heavy traffic along US-60 and area backroads, so the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is urging drivers to stay alert for motorcycles throughout the weekend.