A hum of excitement ran through Leitchfield on Monday as the crew of the popular TV program American Pickers filmed an upcoming episode of their show in a rundown building on West Market Street.
The team set up shop in the city’s parking lot behind Wilson & Muir Bank, turning what is normally a quiet, near-empty lot into an excited sea of fans with camera-phones poised to capture a shot of TV personalities Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, the stars of the History Channel production.
The reality TV series follows the two ‘pickers’ as they travel the country in search of antique finds with the goal of haggling down prices and reselling the unique collectibles in their now-famous Antique Archaeology shops in Nashville, TN, Claire, IA and Savanna, IL.
The show’s popularity has held steady since it’s original airing in 2010, and local fans were thrilled by the chance to catch a glimpse - and maybe a selfie - as Wolfe, Fritz, and their nine-person film crew worked.
One local man and his two young sons caught up with Wolfe outside of the Robert Wright’s Market Street building where the show was being filmed for the day.
“My boys probably like you more than they like me,” he joked, telling Wolfe that he’d picked the boys up from school early so that they didn’t miss the photo opportunity with one of their favorite stars.
Earlier, Wolfe said a woman “ran out of a beauty shop with foil in her hair” when she heard they were filming outside.
He was not only happy to pose for a photo with the woman and her friend, but also took one with his own phone that he later uploaded on Twitter with the caption, “Pickin’ Kentucky today and met these wacky ladies - this state rocks!”
Despite the constantly-hovering hoards of fans, the American Pickers team was able to spend hours going through the now-defunct 1930’s building that Wright’s family has owned for about 7 decades, uncovering not only some interesting antiques, but also some personal treasures.
“We’re here to tell his story and the community’s story through what we find,” Wolfe said, mentioning that he and Fritz uncovered a stack of local yearbooks from the mid-1920’s as well as a train set from Wright’s childhood.
Wolfe said that his team was excited to learn that the building had hosted Wright’s former screenrpinting shop, a saddle shop, insurance sales office as well as some interesting older trophies.
“It’s incredible,” he said of the location, but added that “the roof is falling in, and he knows he just can’t preserve it anymore.”
During a break in filming, Wright said that the whole situation was exciting, and he was “surprised they took out some of the things they did.”
Wright was put into contact with one of the show’s representatives after talking to the local Chamber of Commerce, as was Caneyville resident Honus Shain, whose Pine Knob property will also be featured in the the same episode of Pickers.
Brittany Hall, with the Chamber, said that Chamber Director Becky Escue was contacted and told that the filming crew would be travelling through Kentucky and was happy to hear from anyone that might have some interesting antiques on their hands.
After Wright and Shain submitted photos of their properties, a research team from New York came to Grayson County to take a look and decide whether they wanted to film here.
Shain said that he received an email shortly thereafter that said, “Howdy Honus, Just got out of our meeting and we would like to send the guys over for some picking fun.”
He said that he was instructed to not tell anyone about the upcoming visit, which took place Sunday.
After arriving at Pine Knob, Shain said the crew decided to film that portion of the episode in his blacksmith shop and a neighboring outbuilding owned by Don Muncy.
Wolfe said, “We found some really cool stuff there.”
While he cannot say exactly what he and his partner purchased while picking Shain’s property, he did say there were “two big things.”
The American Pickers episode featuring the two Grayson County properties does not yet have an exact air-date, but according to Wolfe, it will be shown on the History Channel “in about four months.”