Popular 'Picker' makes northwest Iowa stop
Fritz receives special tour of Okoboji Classic Cars
"There might be museums with more stuff in them, but there are none laid out as beautifully as this. You have a real historian here," Frank Fritz said. "This will live on long after he passes."
Fritz, known as one of the "American Pickers" on the popular History Channel cable program of the same name, visited the Okoboji Classic Car facility north of Milford Tuesday morning and toured with owner Toby Shine.
"I get one day off every 20 days," the Davenport resident said. "We spend a lot of time working on the show. I took a personal day and made a special trip."
"It's always nice to take a special guest through," Shine said. "Frank has been so gracious with his time."
Fritz and Shine took the walking tour of the spacious complex which showcases a wide variety of classic cars in a showroom replicating downtown Spencer and Arnolds Park from years past. Fritz got a close look at each car and the unique historical information associated with both the vehicle and the area.
"It's not everyday someone takes the time and energy to give you a personal tour," Fritz remarked. "If a car has a story behind it, it becomes a lot more valuable."
Fritz has been with the television program since it debuted six years ago. He said Okoboji Classic Cars, while featuring many amazing automobiles, wouldn't be a good fit for American Pickers.
"We try to stay away from museum-quality stuff," he explained. "These things have already been found."
"But," Fritz continued, "it's still nice to see. It's great to be able to see them."
The star of the History Channel show, which airs at 8 p.m. CST Mondays, is glad he finally made it to northwest Iowa for the tour.
"This place is widely known, but I've never had a chance on my way to Sturgis (South Dakota) to see it. Toby was nice enough to take time off to show me around."
Fritz, who considers himself more of a motorcycle enthusiast, said he has traveled to Sturgis for the annual biker rally for 31 straight years and visited the Okoboji area in the past as a young person.
"There are a lot of nice cars that are hard to come by. The only way you see them is in museums."
He added, "It's nice to look in a museum and see cars that can actually run."
In addition to the cars on display, Okoboji Classic Cars also restores vehicles on-site.
Fritz began his collecting career with rocks and beer cans as a youth before moving on to bigger treasures.