Things didn’t look that rosy for Bushkill Park this Summer, when owners Sammy Baurkot and Neal Fehnel had to put on hold their project of reviving the park because of lack of funds.
In 2004, when Hurricane Ivan struck, the old amusement park in Forks Township was flooded. Its iconic Haunted Pretzel ride has been completely destroyed, and many of its other rides suffered irreparable damages. So the park closed, and ulterior attempts to reopen it were unsuccessful: poor management being one of the main reasons.
When Walt Reis and Frank Clever reopened the park in 2006, without its Haunted Pretzel, Bumper Cars and The Whip rides, the number of visitors during the season was way below expectations. Debt closed the park down completely, and vandalism destroyed its remaining attractions, including “Bar’l of Fun” one of America’s oldest fun-houses.
But things could take a better turn for Bushkill Park. The venue was recently visited by Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, the stars of American Pickers, a documentary reality television series on History Channel, that focuses more on antiques and collectibles. Wolfe and Fritz explore people’s homes, barns, sheds, and other outbuildings in search for other peoples’ “junk” – in many cases valuable collectibles. The two run a home-business, Antique Archaeology, in Le Claire, Iowa.
The show on History Channel, which debuted January 18, 2010, has made a huge difference in their business, making Antique Archaeology an internationally recognized brand. Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are also synonymous with their business. Their interest for any random venue in the world can instantly capture media and public attention. This is what happened yesterday, after the third season of American Pickers debuted with A Banner Pick, featuring the Bushkill Park in Easton, and some of its vintage sideshow banners.
Fritz and Wolfe paid $700 for these, a sweet bargain, if you consider their real value. The banners, made by the O. Henry Tent & Awning Co., were appraised at $5,000 to $6,000 each. The appraiser said that they were the work of sideshow sign artist Fred Johnson, and to Fritz and Wolfe’s delight, the signs sold for $10,000 at an online auction. The two pickers went back to Bushkill Park and gave Neal Fehnel $5000 from the win. You can only imagine the park owner’s joy – a hope for the park’s future:
“You guys are amazing. People just don’t do things like that. It never happens to me.”
This is just the beginning for Bushkill Park. Now it’s the turn of the Easton community to get involved and help restore this historic venue. It’s perhaps a great project for a local PR company to show what community engagement truly means.