STURGIS — Michael Ballard and Jesse James Dupree, of The Full Throttle Saloon and Pappy Hoel Campground served as co-grand marshals of the 17th annual Sturgis Mayor’s Ride Monday.
The ride through the Black Hills, led by Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen featured a stop at the Crazy Horse Memorial, and concluded at the State Game Lodge in Custer State Park, with lunch and a presentation by the mayor.
Proceeds from the ride benefit local emergency services, supporting the men and women who dedicate so much to Rally week giving aid and keeping all in attendance safe.
Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen said the Mayor’s Ride remains popular even after 17 years because the proceeds go for a good cause and Rally-goers enjoy the scenic ride through the Hills.
“It goes for ambulance, fire and local organizations,” he said.
Ballard said it is an honor to be one of the co-grand marshals of the Sturgis Mayor’s Ride.
“It’s amazing. It’s such an iconic ride. It’s great to be part of this,” he said prior to the start of the ride Monday.
The owner of Full Throttle Saloon has a long history of motorcycling.
“My mom will tell you that was one of the worst mistakes she ever made was buying me a motorcycle when I was 10,” Ballard said.
He loves motorcycling for the same reason as many at the Sturgis Motorcycle – the freedom.
“You can get on a motorcycle and everything goes away,” he said.
He also appreciates the camaraderie of the motorcycle industry.
“It’s probably the most giving industry there is. There’s probably more money raised by bikers for charity than any other group in the United States. It’s the people,” he said.
Dupree also grew up around the motorcycling culture and said he was humbled to be chosen as co-grand marshal.
“When I was growing up, my father used to talk about Sturgis,” said Dupree of Kennesaw, Ga. “He had a Harley that he parked in our car port and I always wanted a ride.”
The Georgia native actually came to the Rally for the first time 28 years ago when his band, Jackyl, was booked for Rally week.
Dupree also pays homage to Pappy Hoel, founder of the Rally.
“Without Pappy we wouldn’t have this Rally. The fact that he and Pearl started this thing 79 years ago and to see what it has grown into is a testament to them.”
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