LeCLAIRE — Hundreds of little hands darted through an array of toys, antiques and knickknacks as children carefully searched for buried treasures among items decades older than themselves during the Kid Pickers Flea Market held Saturday on the LeClaire Levee.
The area stars of the popular cable TV show “American Pickers” joined the crowds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as vendors 7 to 13 years old from all around the country plied the sales trade, music filled the air and the “Pickers” camera crew filmed for a future episode of the History channel series that features Danielle Colby Cushman, Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe.
Dylan Wilson, 10, trekked 15 hours with his family from Vale, N.C., to lay out his discoveries for perusal.
“I really like the show. I like all the antiques and all the cool stuff they find,” he said. “I was really excited to come up here and meet them and be a part of this. I’ve had some big sales. I feel really good.”
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said fellow vendor Kendall Forrest, 11, whose parents ventured seven hours from Loveland, Ohio, with her. “It’s a really interesting show. They make it a lot of fun. The shows aren’t boring. That’s what really got me into it, and I really like picking and finding new, cool stuff.”
People of all ages came from miles around and sifted through everything from antique bottles, signs, clothes and furniture to carvings, toys, records, cameras and other miscellaneous tchotchkes.
“We love it. We think it’s great that they’re getting the young kids involved,” said Melinda Kelley, 60, who drove down from Zumbro Falls, Minn. “I just came to visit and see where the show is filmed. I watch it on TV. And getting to go through the festival and meet all the little pickers and see all of their things was great.”
Wolfe, one of the stars of “Pickers” and the owner of the Antique Archaeology shop in LeClaire, helped put the event together based upon his 2012 book, “Kid Pickers.”
“Basically, for the last six years, we’ve had so many kids come into the shop to look around and barter and buy things that I thought it would be a good idea,” he said. “We’re always trying to come up with storylines for the show that are based upon our lives, so we thought it would be good to have this as a part of it.
"It’s important to give back to the community, that’s our No. 1 priority, and we thought this event would be a good way to do that, especially since it reaches out to kids and gives them a chance to be a part of the story and a part of the fun. It’s an event where kids are having fun with their families, and what better place to have it than here on the levee with the beautiful weather and the riverboat in the background?”
The kids’ innate sense of discovery about the world makes it intriguing from an educational, as well as an entertainment, standpoint, he said.
“It’s really cool to see what they think of as valuable. I love seeing that sense of discovery with them,” he said, of the 30 kid vendors and hundreds of other children milling about. “It’s really a cool way for them to look at history and to discover things from the past.”
Wolfe is hoping the event will become an annual one.
“To children, so many things are new, so many things are treasures,” he said. “We feel really blessed that so many kids watch the show. From a child’s perspective, it’s not about the money. It’s about the fun of it, and that’s what’s great about this. We’re hoping it’s something that becomes a regular destination and a fun thing for families to do in the summer.”