(USA Features) South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem defended the recent annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis which is attracting massive crowds this year, saying Americans flocked there and to her state for a taste of “the America they grew up in.”
“The Sturgis Rally is about hopping on your bike and exploring this great country through our open roads. Bikers come here because they want to be here. And we love to see them!” the Republican governor noted in an op-ed for Fox News published Thursday.
“Outside of the Fourth of July, the Sturgis Rally must be one of the most iconic celebrations of freedom in the country. And where better to celebrate than in South Dakota, the freest state in the nation?” Noem, who rode an Indian brand motorcycle to the rally earlier this week, continued.
Noting that the rally comes to an end on Sunday, the governor said that the rally came “on the heels of what has been the best tourism season ever” for her state.
Besides coming to see the National Monument, Mount Rushmore, which is located outside of Rapid City, in the state’s southwest, visitors are also going to “small towns, state parks,” and other sites as well.
“Many of the visitors to whom I’ve spoken say they’re coming to South Dakota specifically because it reminds them of the America they grew up in,” she wrote. “Free. Independent. Unburdened by the constraints and headaches that big cities and liberal ideology forced upon them.”
And while many come to see the National Monument, “few know our state’s motto: ‘Under God the People Rule,'” she added.
“That’s an easy standard to live and serve under. The rights of individuals are what birthed this nation and that independent spirit is what drove America to become the leader of not just the free world, but the whole world,” she wrote.
Noem’s op-ed comes on the heels of criticism from the country’s top immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and other federal health officials that the Sturgis rally will turn into a COVID-19 superspreader event.
The rally, which has drawn an estimated 700,000 people to the state, had been the focus of Fauci’s ire since the event kicked off, even as he has reserved criticism of similarly attended events like Lollapalooza in Chicago late last month or former President Barack Obama’s 60th birthday party, which reportedly drew hundreds of guests, most of whom did not mask up or socially distance, according to photos and video leaked online.
“I was not surprised to see Dr. Fauci pick on Sturgis,” Noem, a Republican who never locked down her state during the pandemic, told local media.
“He picked on it last year, this rally as well, and honestly, I wish he cared more about the southern border and what we have going on there with a lot of COVID virus cases coming across the border that are not being isolated and taken care of,” Noem added.
In her op-ed, however, Noem also spoke of the “spirit that is driving South Dakota tourism and business growth, making us the number one state in the nation for GDP growth.”
“At the same time, we currently have some of the lowest COVID case numbers in the country. We have also worked hard with counselors to provide services for substance abusers, leading the nation in decreasing the number of deaths from overdose by 15.9%,” she wrote.
Noem then ripped what she says is hypocrisy coming out of Washington.
“It’s a double standard that gives a free pass to so-called elites to do as they please and mandate others to do as they say. It’s a failure in leadership on their part and why more and more Americans are fleeing big cities and blue states for places like South Dakota,” she wrote.
She went on to note that she also rode a horse to the event carrying an American flag, where she attended an event to auction off “a painting and that flag I carried for a total of $80,000 to support the Treasured Lives charity, which helps victims of human trafficking.”
Later, she accompanied some 300 bikers to “on a ride from Deadwood to the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, where the celebration of freedom continued.”
She concluded: “Under God, the people rule – and ride free on the open roads of South Dakota!”