Hilton, N.Y.— Call it an obsession—a passion. Dennis Westfall is a collector of history.
The Hilton resident has been collecting antiques since he was young. He has everything from a 14th century Spanish suit of armor to Tiffany lamps, from a Model T to old fashion gas pumps.
Last year, the producers of The History Channel’s “American Pickers” got word of the collection Westfall has amassed over the years and gave Westfall a call. The producers told him they were interested in featuring him in one of their episodes.
“American Pickers” is one of the highest rated shows on cable television. The reality show follows two men, Michael Wolfe and Frank Fritz, as they travel around the country to look for antiques and collectables in people’s homes, barns and garages.
In August, the filming crew came to Westfall’s home in Hilton and spent 11 hours filming as Wolfe and Fritz looked around his home and garage looking for things to buy. Westfall says his treasures were difficult to part with.
“The things I wanted them to buy that I wanted to sell them, they were not interested,” Westfall says. “The things I didn't want to sell are the things that were on camera that they bought.”
He says Mike Wolfe was very much a business man but also had a side to him that liked to tease. Meanwhile Frank Fritz was jovial but liked to get the best possible deal on the items he bought.
Despite letting go of some of his most prized collectables, Westfall says he and his family had fun filming for the show.
The Westfalls are pickers themselves and they have bonded through this passion.
“We work as a team,” says Mary Frances Westfall. “Our 5-year-old son is coming up the ranks as well. He likes to go to garage sales with us, to the flea markets and poke around in barns. It's definitely a family venture.”
The Wesfalls consider themselves to be the stewards of history. They hope everyone can appreciate antiques the way they do.
“We hope people learn to take a closer look at their older things and love them up,” Mary Frances says. “Give them a good home and pass them on through the family.”
The episode featuring the Westfalls airs on Monday, January 21.