The American Pickers are once again Missouri-bound.
Hoping to give “historically significant objects a new lease on life” while “learning a thing or two about America’s past along the way,” renowned pickers Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz and Danielle Colby Cushman will scour Missouri for “rusty gold” from Memorial Day weekend in late May through Sunday, June 9.
But what parts of the Show-Me State the trio will explore is still up in the air. It ultimately depends on what local collectors have in their personal hoards.
“We’re looking for leads throughout the state, specifically interesting characters with interesting items and lots of them,” wrote Kourtny Myers with Cineflix Productions, which produces the show. “We are looking for different, unusual and unique items.”
Unusual and unique items such as those created by Aurora industrial artist Ed Witte, who appeared on the episode “Bucking Bronco” alongside his son, Mitch, during the show’s 15th season. It aired on Aug. 10, 2016.
“I think I was probably the first one they ever did here in Southwest Missouri,” Witte said, whose much sought-after, high-end home decor pieces, some made from aircraft and truck parts, originally drew the attention of the show’s producers.
Adding to that, Wolfe himself told Witte that “Bucking Bronco” was one of his all-time favorite episodes. Why? It mostly has to do with the detailed and mutually respectful negotiations that took place between the two pickers over a coveted antique sign — yes, Witte is an experienced picker himself. It was also the very first episode to show a cartoon, which lampooned one of the funniest bits from the episode, when Witte unknowingly was standing on one of the light’s broken brackets that Wolfe coveted.
“(My) show is completely different than all the other ones,” Witte said.
Unlike most reality shows, the show was not scripted, Witte said; what’s seen on the aired episode had not been manipulated during post-production. However, one of the biggest surprises was just how involved the road operation was. Assuming it would be Wolfe and Fritz with a cameraman tagging along, what eventually pulled into his parking lot included the duo’s famed van, “two great motor homes, three to four SUVs and a Ryder truck.”
Filming began at 10 a.m. and wrapped up at 7 p.m. Three cameramen were filming their every move at all times.
“It was quite a deal,” Witte said.
Some red-colored umbrella lights discussed during the episode were actually purchased in Joplin years ago, Witte said. He said he flagged down a truck hauling the lights along S. Main Street, purchasing them right there at the side of the road. (going to scrap metal place), a load going and wanted to save these lights.
The Pickers also highlighted Don Johnson’s Springfield-based establishment, Don Johnson’s Tobacco World, on Glenstone Ave., in 2016, where Johnson’s tough negotiation skills with Wolfe and Fritz earned him their respect; Johnson was referred to as a “hard nut to crack,” according to the Springfield News-Leader.
American Pickers, which has garnered 3 million per episode for A&E’s History Channel, debuted in 2010. New episodes air Mondays at 8 p.m. on History.
Want to know more?
If you or someone you know has a large, private collection or accumulation of antiques the Pickers can spend some time sorting through, send your name, phone number, location and collection description to AmericanPickers@cineflix.com or by calling 855-653-7878.
To view Ed Witte’s industrial artwork, visit the “Hippie Hog” Facebook page; he also has a shop on the Aurora Square.