BURRILLVILLE – Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, the stars of American Pickers, have said they love coming to New England because of the region’s rich history.
In Rhode Island, the pair showed up at a Johnston-based auctioneer’s home in 2010, and in 2014 they explored Belcourt Castle in Newport. The year 2016 saw the boys – who seek out private collections and accumulations of antiques – looking at clothing and gear from one of the country’s oldest motorcycle clubs at a home in Pawtucket.
Could 2018 be the year they end up in Burrillville?
It’s certainly a possibility, at least according to Town Clerk Louise Phaneuf.
“Burrillville was incorporated in 1806 and there still are folks here who are descendants of some of our first town councilmen and other town officials. That’s not old for New England but it’s reported that the area was first settled in 1662,” said Phaneuf. “There is a real pride of place and it’s a charming town that may be of interest to the producers of American Pickers.”
The documentary series, which airs Monday nights on the History Channel and is now in its 19th season, explores the so-call “fascinating world of antique picking.” As the team searches for country’s hidden treasures, they spend time with unique characters from many walks of life, and recycle and rescue forgotten relics from America’s past.
Stars Wolf and Fritz are billed as two of the most skilled pickers in the business and each week, they aim to learn the interesting stories behind their finds.
“They love coming up to New England just because of the history,” Emily Chafetz, American Pickers casting associate, told NRI NOW this week. “It’s so much older than the rest of the country. They always talk about how everything was originally made in that area.”
The show put out a call to Rhode Islanders in April hoping to find some historically significant objects while learning a bit about America’s past. Their travels along the country’s back roads will bring them to the state in June, when producers say Wolf and Fritz aim to discover something they’ve never seen before.
Chafetz says that while the show has received some calls since news of their planned travel to the state went out last month, the ‘pickers” Rhode Island agenda is still far from set.
“We’re still trying to get the word out,” she said.
Phaneuf did her part in spreading the word by posting the news on the town website, and notes that the Burrillville’s rural character makes it an ideal backdrop for the program.
“Residents here are proud of their heritage and proud of their homesteads,” Phaneuf said. “Burrillville’s a place where some citizens are happy to be called ‘swamp Yankee’ – they talk about the barns and basements; their connections to the old woolen mills that dotted the town.”
“When the library was constructed 10 years ago, there were town people eager to see the remnants of the cloth woven in the mills they worked in as students in the 50s. And when the mill was razed and renovated, Burrillvillians were excited that the developer held close to the original design,” Phaneuf noted. “They were less pleased that it was called ‘The Clocktower’: they all know it’s Mill 4.”
“There’s such an interest in these artifacts, I suspect that there are people here who have their own collections that they may be willing to showcase,” she said.
If you or someone you know has a large, private collection or accumulation of antiques that the Pickers can spend the better part of a day looking through, send your name, phone number, location and description of the collection with photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 855-OLD-RUST.