Antiques Roadshow — visiting Alaska for first time in series history — sees thousands of Alaskan keepsakes

The Alaska Native Heritage Center hosted the decades-long appraisal show
Published: Jul. 11, 2023 at 11:42 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage already features an incredible array of historic pieces, all focused on Alaska Native history and culture.

On Tuesday, however, thousands of people were on site for an even broader variety of items: the many antiques, collectibles and more that they wanted checked out by the experts.

“It’s been everything we’ve hoped,” said Antiques Roadshow Executive Producer Marsha Bemko, who said she has been planning an Antiques Roadshow trip to Alaska for more than a decade. “An excellent day here; thousands of people did turn up, and we saw some great things.

“I wouldn’t have known about this item — I’m from Boston — but we saw Susan Butcher’s trophy,” she exclaimed, “A trophy that she received, that we appraised for $100,000.”

Bemko said she learned at the Tuesday event that Butcher, who dominated the Last Great Race from the late 80′s into the early 90′s, is a multi-time Iditarod champion. Butcher, the first multi-time female winner on record, and Libby Riddles, who beat Butcher to become the first woman to win a title, are the only two women to take Iditarod crowns thus far.

“That’s what I love about Roadshow,” Bemko said, explaining that she learns something new on each trip. “Maybe all of you here know that, but most of us don’t.

“We are going to make three hours of television from here that will air sometime next year on Alaska Public Media, sometime between January and the end of May.”

Leigh Keno — one of 73 appraisers with expertise across 23 specialties on site Tuesday — owns Keno Auctions and has been with Antiques Roadshow since its inaugural season. He said it’s a thrill to visit the cities and encounter the treasures people bring for appraisal.

“Just like we hold up a big trout, measure it, get a picture,” Keno said. “Just like that, it’s gone. It might come back, right? But these things are like that; they change ownership. They’re catch and release. That’s why I love it. And you never know when a big trophy might turn up.”

This season will mark the show’s 28th but is the first time the series featured episodes in the Last Frontier. The Anchorage stop is also the last of the show’s summer tour, with the three-hour-long Alaska episodes due out sometime next spring.

Those interested can find out more about the upcoming episodes by registering for the Antiques Roadshow newsletter.