If you haven’t been watching Arizona Highways’ Emmy-winning TV shows you might not know that Queen Creek has an olive mill, Scottsdale has a renowned glass blower and Cave Creek has a motorcycle museum and a colorful character ready to take you on a tour of it.
And you might not realize that the hat maker who designed toppers for the late world-famous comedian George Burns and the Valley’s own Wallace & Ladmo is still creating custom headgear in the north East Valley.
Robin Sewell, who owns the TV rights to use the name of the photo-filled magazine, produces and hosts the weekly tour of the state’s hidden treasures.
That includes not only the natural wonders, but the man-made ones too, Sewell said. The show has been a boon to East Valley businesses that may have previously escaped notice.
Rich Glisson, for example, has been making hats for 25 years.
Sewell visited his shop, Heritage Hats, in the first “Arizona Highways” show in early 2004. People who had driven by the sign for years suddenly stopped to watch him make hats, Glisson said. And many of them bought a topper or two. Orders came in from around the country after the TV show was released on DVD, he said.
“It brought me a lot of business, and I still get repeat business from that show,” Glisson said. “Most people didn’t even know there are still hat makers.”
Paolo Soleri’s picturesque bronze bell-making operation Cosanti lies hidden behind a cluster of trees on a quiet Paradise Valley street. After an “Arizona Highways” episode, art lovers from near and far found it, said general manager Chris Ohlinger.
“That brought out a lot of people who said they saw it on the show,“ Ohlinger said. “And many more times than not, when people come here, they leave with a bell.”
Sewell said she looks for businesses that are ”interesting, historic, the fabric of Arizona, places that have a story.”
“Who would have known we have olive groves in Queen Creek? Or that Sanctuary Resort in Paradise Valley cooks with this company’s olive oil? Most Arizonans haven’t been to three-quarters of the places we highlight,” she said. “We can highlight a place like Cosanti for five or six minutes. Who else does that?”
The aim of the show, Sewell said, is to drive people to explore their own state and find the interesting people and businesses that lie undiscovered just around the corner.
“Arizona Highways” started the second half of its fourth season Saturday.
• In the Valley, “Arizona Highways”airs at 6:30 p.m. Saturdays and 11:05 p.m. Sundays on KPNX-TV (Channel 12).