And what a summer it was for local attractions with some posting what might be the best season ever.
The Royal Tyrrell Museum has seen a feverish pace this summer with visitors from across the country and around the world coming to check out its world class displays. Its new exhibit has certainly been a draw.
“Why have we been successful this year? I think there have been a whole bunch of reasons,” said Andrew Neuman
Executive Director of the Royal Tyrrell Museum. “I think there has been a really good media charge around our new exhibit and especially our nodosaur exhibit, we are getting people from all over the place coming to see it.”
“Certainly from across the country and even the US, we are seeing people specifically identifying the nodosaur, and the exhibit. The coverage it has had both in the scientific medians and National Geographic, has caught a lot of people’s imagination.”
To put a number on that, the Tyrrell saw 310,000 people come through the gate in the last quarter alone.
Other conditions that contributed include the BC wildfires, which had people looking for other places to spend their vacations. Neuman said Canada’s 150th birthday appears to have spurred many to travel across the country, and
Drumheller is often one of their stops. Another factor is the good hot sunny weather.
“The weather has been a huge factor, we have had about three days of rain the whole summer. People come to the valley for lots of different reasons, but if the weather is good, we have larger numbers.”
It was commonplace this season to see visitors to the Royal Tyrrell Museum lined up to enjoy the exhibits. mailphoto by Patrick Kolafa
Neuman says since they have been tracking accurate attendance records, their best year was in 2015, with just under 480,000 people. Already they have almost reached 400,000 visitors with three months to go, and their pace is tracking 8 per cent higher than 2015.
The Atlas Coal Mine is also having a banner year. Executive Director Sarah Newstead said they might also be on track for one of their best seasons ever, although at first it didn’t look that way.
“We were a little slow in July and that seems to be a trend in a lot of other places in Drumheller, but our August was just awesome,” said Newstead. “We probably had our best day ever on our August Long Weekend and surprisingly, our Labour Day Weekend was also very good this year.”
Newstead believes their success this year has to do with the valley telling its story.
“I think the work of Travel Drumheller and Travel Alberta promoting the valley has just gotten more people knowing we are here and there are lots of great things in the valley,” she said. “We are seeing more multi-day trips. More than just one day to see the Tyrrell, but staying here for a couple of days and seeing not only us but the other amazing museums we have in town.”
It was a year of milestones for the Atlas. It was the centennial of the Atlas Coal Mine Company, the 80th birthday of the tipple and 30 years of operations as a museum. On October 7, they are having a retro homecoming day to celebrate three decades as a historic site.