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International Sturgis

By Meghan Boyer

August 2010 - After 70 years in Sturgis, S.D., the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is crossing borders. For the first time, the rally is heading overseas to Taebaek, South Korea, in a multicultural event that will combine American motorcycle traditions with Asian culture. The 2010 Sturgis Asia Rallywill take place Sept. 17-21.

"The rally in South Dakota is the most famous rally in the world," says John McGinnis, U.S. business development manager for Sturgis Asia. "There're so many riders who are living the lifestyle that can't get here. Our hope is to respect other countries' cultures but bring the foundation of Sturgis that they love to their countries."

The Stugis Chamber of Commerce and the City of Taebaek are hosting Sturgis Asia. "This is the first international rally sponsored by Sturgis," says McGinnis.

Tom Bandy began the effort to expand Sturgis-style rallies to other countries in 2009. Since then, he and his U.S.-based team have worked closely with a South Korea-based team led by Sang Park to put together the event. "We've been working on this for a year. It's been a real labor of love," says McGinnis. Asia has among the top bike sales globally, which is why it made sense as a rally location, he says. The group hopes to continue expanding into new countries and regions. This year, however, there are two main focuses: Putting on a good rally, and educating other cultures about the U.S. motorcycle lifestyle, says McGinnis.

At the rally
In addition to the same types of events found at the South Dakota rally, such as custom bike shows, stunts, concerts and a hill climb, Sturgis Asia will include Asian cultural entertainment and food. "It's going to be a true multicultural rally," says McGinnis. Multiple motorcycle icons, including Arlen Ness, Eddie Trotta, Dave Perewitz and Donnie Smith, also will be at the event.

In addition to introducing U.S. motorcycle rallies to Asia, Sturgis Asia also will bring a piece of home to the more than 20,000 troops stationed in Korea, says McGinnis. Bandy and his South Korean team have met with the troops, who are excited for the upcoming event.

"We're bringing them some home cooking," says McGinnis. "We're grateful to be able to do that for the troops. It means a lot to us."

Interest in Sturgis Asia was high at the 70th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, where McGinnis and others promoted the event.

"It's been great here at Sturgis because we've had people from Canada and England and South Africa and Australia saying, "When are you coming to us?'" he says.

Many veterans and troops who served in Asia and were attending the South Dakota rally also expressed enthusiasm for Sturgis Asia. "They are just so happy that we're going over there," says McGinnis.

Anyone interested in Sturgis Asia but unable to make it can visit its website, www.sturgisasia.com, during the event to view live feeds, pictures and more. FFJ

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