Ark Encounter launches new exhibit

Some say Ark Encounter propels local businesses

DRY RIDGE, Ky. -- Richard Hayhoe never thought his small cafe and bakery would need to accommodate buses.

His shop, Beans Cafe and Bakery, is just 5 miles from the Ark Encounter, the life-sized Noah's Ark in Williamstown.  

The $150 million attraction promised to draw millions of people and dollars to the local economy at its launch in July 2016, and Hayhoe, along with many local business owners, say it has delivered.

"In our meal period, we're probably double -- thanks to the Ark,” Hayhoe said.

MUST SEE: Take an inside look at Ark Encounter

More than 600 people attended the Ark Encounter as it released its newest exhibit Friday.

The new exhibit, Search for Truth, explores the Bible and Noah’s family, according to Ark Encounter President and CEO Ken Ham.

“This is a graphic novel approach to reach a contemporary culture to deliver a Christian message,” Ham said.

In the seven months it’s been open, roughly 500,000 people have visited, Ham said.

"We're getting so many people coming to the Ark Encounter,” Ham said. “In fact group bookings are through the roof,  and our travel agent who books a lot of hotels says that they can't even get hotel rooms from April through June from Cincinnati to Lexington."

Roy Barnes, manager of Dry Ridge Motor Inn, said the attraction has definitely impacted business.

"July 7th (when the Ark opened) to about middle of October, we stayed packed every night,” Barnes said. “It's helped all the businesses out here and in the community."

The motel, just four miles from the attraction, is under renovation due to the spike in business.

"Before it used to be a small town, but now more people are stopping in,” Barnes said. 

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