Except during the first week of August, when it jumps to 470,000 — a rise of almost 7,000 percent.
That’s because almost every year since 1938, the community has hosted the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (SMR) — the nation’s largest.
A number of riders from Beeville will be attending the 74th annual rally this year, including four current and former Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees.
With a bow to the Touchtone Pictures film of the same name, Jon Richardson, Jim Shaha, David Stockley and J.J. Perez call themselves the “Wild Hogs.”
“Beeville will be well-represented,” Richardson says, “including Joe Trevino, the Beeville chief of police.”
His passion for motorcycles isn’t recent.
“My mom bought me my first dirt bike when I was 10,” says Richardson, who is 50. “Over the years, I’ve owned 30, maybe 40. I’ve got four in the garage right now. But, my baby is a red, 1999 Ultra Classic Harley. That’s what I’m taking to Sturgis.”
They leave this Sunday for the 1,300-mile trip. “We’re going straight through,” Richardson says. “Twenty-four hours.”
However, because the bikes carry only five gallons of fuel, riders have to stop every 200 miles to refuel.
Anyone on the road between here and South Dakota could be forgiven for thinking they were seeing double if the Wild Hogs pass them. Jim Shaha’s bike is identical to Richardson’s, with a serial number only 100 higher.
The Sturgis rally is the town’s main source of income. “A lot of businesses make their entire year’s income during that week,” Richardson says.
SMR statistics show that two years ago, the rally resulted in $434,000 in state sales taxes, $217,000 in city sales taxes, $10.8 million in vendor sales, 142 parking tickets, eight felony arrests, 204 traffic violations, 351 emergency room visits, nine deaths en route and 43 marriages.
The SMR website contains 25 pages of activities and events — all contained in a $24 guidebook.
The group plans to spend three days strictly riding. “There’s the Black Hills,” Richardson says. “It is beautiful riding country. We might even go up to Canada.”
With the foursome’s choice of careers, they don’t expect to encounter any problems from other bike riders who may not hold the same opinion about law enforcement.
“A lot of people look at us and consider us what I could call ‘one-percenters’ — in other words, they abide by one percent of the laws. Those are the Hell’s Angels, the Bandidos, your outlaw gangs. They’ll all be up there. However, there’s a mutual respect for each other.”
The SMR website notes, “In recent years, there has been an attempt to curb some of the more unruly activity in the town. However, many privately owned campgrounds and saloons have sprouted up outside of the city limits. While downtown maintains a fairly safe and well-patrolled atmosphere, there is still a wild side...outside the city.”
“We’re a brotherhood of bikers,” Richardson says. “But, we don’t associate with each other.”
Richardson and the rest of the Wild Hogs say the enjoyment and adventure of the trek to Sturgis overpowers other considerations.
“When I get out there, I’m in my world. There’s a certain freedom. It’s like an eagle flying. My wife, Melissa, is right – she calls it ‘wind therapy.’”
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.