posted on February 01, 2009 02:45
By Phil Bowling
Each August, the legendary town of Deadwood, S.D., comes alive for 10 days when nearly 500,000 bikers come from all over the world for the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. But, in addition to a much publicized campaign stop by Republican presidential candidate John McCain, something else was different for the 2008 rally-cigars became an official part of the event.
Deadwood Tobacco Company, located in the basement of the town’s original hotel building, had witnessed the love of cigars in past years’ rallies, and the owners, John and Vaughn Boyd, Decided to make it an official cigar event. They invited industry friends to come celebrate and promote premium cigars during the event.
Key players from Ashton, C.A.O., Camacho, Drew Estates, Rocky Patel, Villiger Stokkebye and Xikar came for the event, selling cigars and visiting with bikers in the store during the day, and then retiring to the Boyds’ mountainside home late each night for what became a most-impressive weeklong sleepover. Stories, bourbon and cigars overflowed the couple’s home till the wee hours. And food also found its place in these late-night sessions-including an omelet bar at 3 one morning, with quest chef Rocky Patel. (Yes, he cooks too!)
Did we mention that, in addition to the famous from the premium tobacco world, the Boyds’ home played host to several famous tattoo artists who came in from all over California for the event? Suffice it to say that almost everyone went home with a new bit of ink as a souvenir from Deadwood.
Another new feature of the Sturgis rally that began in 1938 was the Legends Ride, which featured some 250 Sturgis Rally goers making the 43-mile ride from downtown Deadwood, through Vanocker Canyon and into the town of Sturgis before stopping at the Buffalo Chip Campground, a 500-acre area that played host to campers and headliner concerts.
The Legends Ride raised nearly $38,000 for the Kids and Chrome Foundation, which benefits two great organizations-the Children’s Home Society of South Dakota, providing a home and help for children with emotional or behavioral problems, and the Sturgis Motorcycle museum and Hall of Fame, which helps preserve the history of motorcycling.
John and Vaughn Boyd have been doing things a little differently since they entered the premium cigar business in the 1990s. While operating a successful cigar shop California, it was nothing to have customers walk into the store to find wild animals on display. The Boyds love being creative with their in-store events and sometimes featured exotic animals in the store as part of fundraising events. They raised lots of money for some great causes in California, including the fight against Prop.10.
But, bike enthusiasts themselves, the Boyds fell in love with the sleepy town of Deadwood (few tourists brave the winters in the Black Hills) and saw some great potential. They left the California store in the capable hands of their children, hopped on their bikes and moved to South Dakota a few years back.
The Boyds found a perfect store location in the basement of the former hotel. A wooden floor now covers the former baths where Deadwood’s infamous visitors would get bathed, shaved and refreshed before going through the building’s hidden tunnels to spend quality time with the working girls upstairs before heading back out on the trail. “Sometimes you hear things, or things get moved or doors get unlocked when no one is here,” says Vaughn with a laugh. “I guess the ghosts want to remind us they are still around, or maybe they just like the great smell of our cigars.”
Just outside the front entrance is another nod to Deadwood’s past-the town’s first jail cell. Deadwood Tobacco Company uses the room, still featuring the iron cell door, to store beer and other supplies. “The history of this town and this building is pretty cool and we love it here,” John says. “We think this is the perfect location for locals and visitors to come in, relax with a beer and a cigar, and spend the evening listening to some great live music.”
In addition to a walk-in humidor, stocked with the finest offerings from the top manufacturers, the store features a bar that serves beer and wine. And Deadwood Tobacco Company also has a small stage where many local bands perform throughout the year. John sometimes sits in on drums with a few of the bands.
And if you think you missed a great time at the 2008 Sturgis rally, you did. But another rally is coming up this August, just before the IPCPR show in New Orleans. So pack your leather gear, hop on your bike and head to Deadwood.
If you fly in late in the evening, don’t worry. The Boyds will leave the door unlocked for you. Simply pour yourself a drink and make yourself at home. They’ll be home as soon as the band stops playing and they can push all the bikers out of the store around 1 a.m., and the official pre-IPCPR party will get started.
For information about the 2009 Legends Ride, visit www.deadwoodtobacco.com or www.legendsride.com.