American Pickers visit spurs national interest in Heritage Farm - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

‘American Pickers' visit generates national interest in Heritage Farm

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By JAMES E. CASTO

For The State Journal

HUNTINGTON — The recent visit by television's "American Pickers" has generated a national wave of interest in Mike and Henriella Perry's Heritage Farm Museum and Village, Mike Perry said this week.

Speaking Feb. 24 as part of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce "Coffee and Conversation" series, Perry said the Heritage Farm's website recorded 220,000 unique hits during December's "American Pickers" episode that featured a 20-minute visit to the museum by TV hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz.

"That compares to the 3,000 hits we ordinarily get in a day," Perry said. And the farm's website traffic has spiked again each time the History Channel has offered a rerun of the episode, he said.

Perry said he and his wife had been picking "since before Mike and Frank were born. Of course, Henriella never called it picking. She calls it junking." He said hosting the TV duo was a lot of fun since he and Henriella are loyal fans of the show. And they found the two hosts to be exactly as they appear to be on the show.

"You always wonder whether they have their TV persona and then their real persona, but it was like talking to people you've known for a long time."

"We spent years collecting the thousands of artifacts that you can see at the farm," Perry said. "But I hope nobody thinks we spent so much time and energy just collecting a bunch of old stuff, just to preserve it. That's part of the farm's mission. But only part of it. Our motto at the farm is that you study the past to gain an appreciation of today and dream about what's possible tomorrow."

Perry said "the media in this community and state have been marvelous to us in telling people about the farm. But when you get out beyond Huntington and West Virginia, that's another matter. And that's why ‘American Pickers' has been such a blessing, not just for Heritage Farm but for the whole state of West Virginia, which badly needs this kind of positive exposure."

Perry said he doesn't know yet how many visitors "American Pickers" will attract to the farm, but he said nothing on the show that gave out Heritage Farm's website address.

"People had to go to their computers, type in our name and track us down. Clearly that meant they were really interested in us," he said.

Audy Perry, Mike and Henriella's son, said the museum got its start in 1973 when the family moved from their comfortable South Side to a burned-out log cabin on Harvey Road just outside Huntington.

"They fell in love with the 150-year-old logs, and overlooked the fact there was no indoor plumbing and only one strand of electric lights," the younger Perry said.

That lovingly restored cabin was the start of a complex that now covers more 500 acres and draws thousands of visitors each year to its six museum buildings, blacksmith shop, log church, one-room schoolhouse, saw mill and more. The museum has become a popular spot for weddings, reunions and other gatherings.

And Heritage Farm continues to grow. The latest project, Mike Perry said, involves turning the farm's 1850-vintage dairy barn into a 50-person bunkhouse designed to make the farm accessible to more school, church and Scout groups for overnight camps and experiences.

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