August 5, 2011 10:09:00 PM
David Miller -
STURGIS -- There''s still hope for the Sturgis South Motorcycle Rally.
A day after announcing the rally scheduled for Oct. 7-9 had been cancelled due to a budget shortfall, Sturgis South Rally Board President Donny Hanson turned his attention Friday to fundraising.
The rally, an Oktibbeha County staple for the last 14 years, has been a dependable source of revenue for local hotels and restaurants in Starkville, Louisville and Ackerman.
To save the Sturgis South Rally, which Hanson said lost $28,000 last year, those local business will have to help generate $40,000 of the estimated $80,000 needed to cover entertainment fees by the end of the month. Sturgis South organizers have a 30-day window prior to the event to cancel concert contracts without financial penalty.
The tentative rally entertainment includes Colt Ford and Jamey Johnson as headliners and Crossin'' Dixon as one of the opening bands.
The two-night concerts, Hanson said, is the lynchpin of the annual weekend event because its the only source of revenue for the rally itself.
"With attendance dwindling over the past four or five years, we just feel cannot financially do a show without backing," Hanson said. "Registration fees haven''t been coming in like it normally does, and we were hoping for that to be going strong at this point."
Registration also dipped by 20 percent in 2010, Hanson said.
The town of Sturgis signs a contract with the rally board each year and for an agreed fee provides cleanup services for the event. The rally board doesn''t generate operating revenue from bar and restaurant taxes and lodging.
"We have built up funds in the past to cover the unforeseen," Hanson said, "but by the time we pay the city, we just don''t have cushion to cover us. Plus, we had only 2,000 people out of the 15,000 or so purchase armbands for the concert (in 2010).
"We''ve pleaded with area businesses about sponsorships over the last 10 years and get very little response," Hanson added. "We''ve paid out of our rears for years now, and the only thing we''ve got to pay bills is armband sales and what few T-shirts we sell."
The rally is currently without a site, too, after the Sturgis Board of Aldermen Thursday voted 3-1 against against accepting the terms of the services contract as the Rally Board''s proposed payment was $10,000 less than last year. Sturgis uses the contract money, vendor and RV fees to provide security and sanitation.
Even after scaling back projected services costs based on the calendar change -- it''s usually in August -- and fewer people expected to attend, the Sturgis Board of Aldermen rejected it.
"Sturgis just reached a stalemate on negotiations," Sturgis Mayor Walter Turner said. "We were actually pretty close on the number (to sign the venue and services contract). My thing is to go to Starkville and surrounding areas that have hotels booked because of the rally and say ''look, the rally needs help. Your cancellations are gonna start coming in.'' They have to pitch in and get them back on their feet. That''s the last card I''ve got in my hand to play because I think we need the rally."
The rally organization lost additional money due to legal fees tied to the trademark use of "Sturgis South Bike Rally." Organizers of the "Sturgis Rally" held in South Dakota requested Sturgis South change its name. Though the two organizations were never involved in a lawsuit, Sturgis South offered the South Dakota-based rally a users fee but haven''t heard a response.
If the Sturgis South rally happens this year, it will be called the "Red Hills Motorcycle Rally."
Starkville motorcycle enthusiast Andy Shurden said a poker run and the sale of "Save Sturgis South" T-shirts, which he hopes will sell for $20 a piece, are being planned to raise money.
"They have possibly the biggest entertainment lineup they''ve every had, which compliments the success of it," Shurden said. "I''m just a fan of the event, but I know it impacts many people in the town and the area."
People who want to donate to save the rally can visit sturgismsrally.com.