By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Sturgis is the world’s largest motorcycle rally.
Once a year, riders from around the country gather in the small South Dakota town for a big celebration.
Redmond resident Donn Hougham, his wife Marni, and their close-knit group of Harley fanatics are traveling over 1300 miles to experience the bucket list-worthy rally.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We live life to the fullest, I’m not scared,” Hougham said.
For its 80th anniversary, as many as 250,000 people are expected to attend Sturgis this year.
And believe it or not, that’s a small number compared to previous anniversary years – more than 730,000 attended in 2015.
Donn says he’s not concerned over the number of people that will likely show up, and that COVID aside, he and his friends are not the types to worry about what they can’t control.
“We pretty much live life. We’re just not afraid, we’re cautious, but we’re not afraid,” Hougham said. “We’re trying to live without all the chaos. We did do the lockdown like everyone else did. We wondered this isn’t much of a life so once riding season came we were riding.”
Donn’s wife Marni says they’ve already missed out on enough since the start of the pandemic.
“All of our runs, all of our rides were canceled, and we ride all summer long. Sturgis is still open, it’s still happening, it’s still going. This is a big deal for us because we haven’t had any of those big runs and fun trips.”
But are they concerned with getting sick and bringing it back to Central Oregon?
The group says they’ll be taking the precautions they feel comfortable with.
“The flu virus is out there every year. People have died from that,” Hougham said. “Yes be careful, if you’re worried and you want to wear a mask, then wear a mask. If you’re worried about social distancing too close, then don’t stay next to your buddy. Or if you go shopping, stay away from people. That’s your personal choice and your personal fears. We as a group don’t have those like others do, so we’re going.”
In the end, it’s an experience they’re not willing to miss out on and big crowds are just a part of the deal.
“We live life to the fullest, and so if that means wear a mask, then I guess we’ll wear a mask. But if not, then we just live.”