Thousands flock to West Fargo for Antiques Roadshow

WEST FARGO — Nearly 7,000 applied for tickets to a taping of Antiques Roadshow in hopes they would be one of about 4,000 ticket holders bringing items to Bonanzaville for professional appraisals to determine if they truly have something with one-of-a-kind value.

In the PBS television show's first trip to the Fargo area, producers said the Cass County Historical Society's Pioneer Village was the perfect backdrop to film three episodes of the show.

As ticket holders arrived on Saturday, June 1, their items were divided into more than 20 categories from art, furniture, jewelry and collectibles to toys and artifacts.

Ticket holders then met with one of more than 70 professional appraisers, who flew in from across the nation and volunteered their time to get a look at sometimes rare and unique pieces. If the appraiser finds an interesting piece, whether it will likely be worth a lot of money or possibly a one of a kind item, they then turn to producers who may choose the item to be appraised on camera by the show's hosts.

Some bringing items to the taping hoped to hear their item was worth a lot of money, but others just wanted to know if their item was of top quality such as Lisa from Valley City, who was chosen to have wood carvings done by her great uncle in the early 1900s looked at by an appraiser.


Lisa, whose last name was not released per request by Antiques Roadshow management, was only interested in finding out if a professional admired the quality of her family's work.

"[The appraiser] talked about the skill it took to make these," she said. "Money wasn't why I wanted to do this at all."

Fargo resident Les was hoping to hear the antique pedal car he had fully restored would hold value.

"I can't even venture to guess what it might be appraised at," he said.

For Executive Producer Marsha Bemko, the unique stories that can be uncovered during the appraisal process is what she holds closest. At Saturday's taping, Bemko said she met a woman whose mother worked as a silversmith under Georg Jensen, a renowned Danish silversmith in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

"She would have been the only woman working as a silversmith in that shop," Bemko said. The woman's daughter brought in not only silver created by her mother with the Jensen signature, but a handwritten letter of recommendation he wrote for the woman when she decided to leave his shop and create her own art.

The items were valued at $25,000 to $30,000, but the story behind the items is priceless, Bemko said.

"I just loved hearing about that girl's story," she said.


Another favorite item of Bemko's that appeared Saturday was a textile piece a local man had taken from the site of the former World Trade Center. The man was helping with restoration after the September 11 attacks and he was allowed to keep the item.

"It's really an interesting story, I can't wait to air it," Bemko said.

Antiques Roadshow will be in its 24th season on PBS when the three hour-long episodes filmed at Bonanzaville air in 2020.

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