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Thousands of bikers descend on South Dakota town for 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Thousands of bikers have defied social distancing guidelines as they gathered for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Friday. 

Up to a quarter of a million people are expected to converge on the city in South Dakota for the 10-day festival, which will feature live music, bikes stunts and races. 

Photos from the festival show attendees gathered close together as they watched a parade of souped-up motorcycles rev through the downtown area. 

Most people in the crowd also chose to forgo face coverings - ignoring recommendations put forward by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention amid the coronavirus pandemic.    

Thousands of bikers have defied social distancing guidelines as they gathered for the commencement of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Friday

Photos from the festival show attendees gathered close together as they watched a parade of souped-up motorcycles rev through the downtown area

A store selling President Trump merchandise was seen set up on a Sturgis  sidewalk on Friday. The annual event pumps around $800 million into the economy 

Officials say they were powerless to stop the event from going ahead, with bikers saying they would show up regardless 

Motorcyclists ride down Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Friday

A shirt hangs outside of a store during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota

Officials say they were powerless to stop the event from going ahead, with Public Information Officer Christina Steele telling CBS: 'The decision to hold the Rally came after hearing from thousands of attendees that they were coming to the event, even if it was canceled by the city of Sturgis.'

'The city felt it had to be prepared with adequate emergency ambulance, fire and police services to assist with these people,' she told the news network. 

'The large camping facilities located outside the city control also made it known that they would remain open and had thousands of camping reservations in place.' 

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has been an annual event since 1938, and has been attracting around 500,000 people in recent years. 

While numbers are expected to be down this year, there were tens of thousands who would not be deterred.       

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has been an annual event since 1938, and has been attracting around 500,000 people in recent years

What social distancing? Crowds fill the streets at the event where many people were not wearing masks

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has been an annual event since 1938, and has been attracting around 500,000 people in recent years

Bikes were seen parked down the length of the city's Main Street on Friday 

Up to a quarter of a million people are expected to converge on the city in South Dakota for the 10-day festival, which will feature live music, bikes stunts and races

Maskless biker Huey Barney takes a call on his motorcycle during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Friday

Some attendees still opted to wear face coverings as they strolled around Sturgis on Friday afternoon 

'On my way I ain't scared of the media flu or as we call it round here election flu see ya soon South Dakota', one wrote. 

'Just call it a big protest !! And it be A-Ok!!' another remarked. 

The publication reports that people have arrived from all across the country, and at least one store is selling 'Screw Covid' shirts.  

South Dakota has recorded more than 9,300 coronavirus cases since the outbreak of the pandemic in March. 144 residents have died.  

Two diners were seen sitting indoors at a cafe in the South Dakotan city. Businesses are tying to safely social distance customers 

Officials have tried to keep attendees as safe as possible, and have installed sanitizing stations in the city's downtown area 

Revelers were keen to enjoy the annual festival despite the coronavirus pandemic currently crippling the county 

Kevin Campbell (C) cheers while watching a band perform during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Friday

One reveler and her pet dog are pictured at an outdoor bar on Friday afternoon 

Many attendees were not wearing masks but Gene Haheim (above) was selling face shields during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Friday

Store owners are trying their best to stop a potential cluster of cases from occurring during the 10-day festival 

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