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'Virginia's Treasures' pilot episode to showcase Shenandoah Valley

By Josette Keelor

A new antique pickers show that will air its first episode on Harrisonburg's public access television hopes to take flight in Virginia.

The pilot episode of "Virginia's Treasures" will air at 9 p.m. Thursday on WVPT/PBS in Harrisonburg and feature locations in Northern Shenandoah Valley like Laughlin's Auctions Inc. and Shenandoah Vineyards, both in Edinburg, and the Strasburg Emporium.

Producer and show creator Robin Lyttle of Shenandoah County said if the show sticks, she wants to feature the Shenandoah Valley in several more episodes before moving on to greater Virginia.

The format will be the same in each episode, following three teams of Virginia pickers who each receive $300 and two hours to find a couple of items they think will make a profit at auction. At the end of the episode, all three teams will celebrate at a local vineyard.

"Each show I go to a different museum, a different winery, a different auction house and a different buying venue," Lyttle said.

"The idea is to have new teams wherever we go and to work with local pickers," she said. "I think that's some of the charm of the show. They're already asking for a reunion show, the pickers had so much fun."

Lyttle, who lives near Basye, is new to television, her experience based around specialty lighting for modern dance, large events and parties in Washington, D.C.

"This is the first time for me being on the other side of it, actually creating the media and editing," she said. Her production company Lyttle Productions LLC produces "Virginia's Treasures," but she said the company is a re-launch of her former company to distinguish it from her lighting business.

The new company is in honor of her father, a car salesman who turned 94 on Tuesday and whom Lyttle called "a self-made man."

Lyttle came up with "Virginia's Treasures" after doing some videos at Laughlin's Auctions and at Jeff S. Evans and Associates in Mt. Crawford. She wondered what it would be like watching teams work together to search for and sell valley antiques.

But she doesn't want the show to compare to bigger productions like "American Pickers" or "Auction Hunters."

Having teams to watch, Lyttle said, "It sort of adds some relief, if you will, instead of having an individual picker."

Evans joined the show as a local expert to do appraisals, show valley pottery and answer questions about artists, and Lyttle asked her neighbor Crystal Fleming to host.

"I was working on the concept and the concept video," Lyttle said. "[Fleming] just retired from having her own store in Harrisonburg. I thought about her because I'd seen her on some ads."

"She's a very good speaker and her presence is very good," Lyttle said.

A preview of the pilot episode on the website www.virginiastreasures.com, follows around novice pickers and collectors from the area, explaining the show's premise and showing snippets of what the teams discovered.

"Each week," Fleming says as host, "we will shop, buy and sell antiques, always hoping for that hidden treasure worth thousands."

Later in the recording she says, "Our shoppers did pretty well, but we won't really know exactly how well until we sell their items at auction."

Six of the antiques in the pilot episode made money, and Lyttle said one is an 1851 honey pot or crock by Rockingham County's Emanuel Suter that sold at auction for $86,250.

"I really wanted to be able to include those kinds of details in the show," Lyttle said. But while she said she hopes the show will take off, she said she always intended it for public access television.

"I love the valley," she said, "and the history and I've been into antiques for some time and I've always enjoyed the country auctions."

"It's been a labor of love and a lot of fun," she said. "I always wanted to showcase the valley."

The pilot episode of "Virginia's Treasures" will air at 9 p.m. Thursday on Harrisonburg station WVPT/PBS. Robin Lyttle will be at the Premier Gathering that night at Joe's Steakhouse, 124 S. Main St., Woodstock. For more information and airing specifics, visit www.virginiastreasures.com or lyttleproductions.com.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com



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