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'American Pickers' show featuring Wadena residents airs Monday

Anita Small (left), Erica Keppers and Mike Wolfe celebrate after making a deal during a recording for the "American Pickers" episode to air Monday, March 16, on the History Channel. Submitted photo

WADENA, Minn. — The late Ed Blazek surrounded himself in unusual antiques, big and small, in his otherwise unassuming Wadena home.

Few people have seen all that he's collected there, but the world will catch a glimpse of his treasures Monday, March 16, during the airing of an "American Pickers" episode, which features Blazek's home.

Blazek passed away at age 80 in 2018 after collecting items since the early 1970s and more extensively for most of the 25 years of his retirement. Blazek was an employee of the Wadena Light and Water. His daughters Erica Keppers and Anita Small knew that their father's collection was one the popular History Channel series would find worthwhile. Keppers emailed the show's producers when she heard the "pickers" were looking for treasures as they made their way through Minnesota. She knew her dad had more than a few items of interest.

"He enjoyed finding antiques and learning about the history," Keppers said. She recalls spending hours with her dad as he waited for a chance to bid on items at auctions.

"He was so knowledgeable," Keppers continued. "He just loved the history of it."

Blazek was a regular at area flea markets, often going early to see what was about, then returning later to try to make a deal. Keppers recalls his interests varied over the years but for a time comic books, art deco items and marbles were highly sought after. While he did sell some of his items, others were just too good to part with. That helped make the visit worthwhile for a popular reality TV show.

When the star of the show, Mike Wolfe, and his entourage appeared Nov. 6, 2019, Keppers and Small had the pleasure of showing the crew around for 10-12 hours during the making of the episode. Keppers couldn't say just what they walked away with but viewers will soon find out.

"Mike and Dave and the crew were all great to work with," Keppers said.

Keppers, said her dad would have been pleased to see the enthusiasm of the crew as they perused the inventory at Blazek's home.

"I think our dad would have enjoyed them looking at his collection," Keppers said. "It was really a fun experience and something we will not forget."

While American Pickers left with some items, the home still houses many treasures. Viewers will get to see what got away right along with the family.

"We're going to be watching it, with everyone else," Keppers said of her plans for Monday night.

Next on the family's list is to find the right avenues of selling the rest of their father's impressive collection.

Want to watch?

What: American Pickers all new episode entitled "Young Grasshopper." Mike and Dave join a pair of sisters for a thorough excavation of their late father’s high-caliber collection. Down the road, the founder of Memoryville—a historic town full of antique buildings—opens the doors to his vintage wonderland. Meanwhile in Tennessee, Mefford-the-mechanic has an update on the legendary Madame X Cadillac.

When: Premieres Monday, March 16, at 8 p.m. Central on History Channel.

Why: The show features Wadena residents Erica Keppers and Anita Small in the home of their late father, Ed Blazek.

Michael Johnson

Johnson is a graduate of Verndale Public School. He earned his associate's degree from Central Lakes College with an emphasis in English and natural resources. He earned his bachelor's degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he graduated cum laude in 2008. While there, he double-majored in English and Mass Communications. He's reported for The Advocate, student newspaper of MSUM; The Barnesville Record Review in Barnesville, Minn.; Clay County Historical Society in Moorhead, Minn.; Gillette News Record in Gillette Wyo.; Underwood News in Underwood, N.D.; and The Leader-News in Washburn, N.D. and the Brainerd Dispatch in Brainerd, Minn. Johnson has worked as a freelance writer, reporter and now community editor for the Wadena Pioneer Journal.

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