Trevor “Fred” Jenkinson of Tylertown watched his first episode of the popular “Forged in Fire” TV show in January 2016. On Wednesday he will appear on it as a contestant.
The show will air 8 p.m. on The History Channel as Jenkinson and three others compete to win a blade-making contest.
“I’ve watched every episode since I started it, and that was in 2016,” said Jenkinson, 19, a freshman at Southwest Mississippi Community College.
He learned much of what he knows from watching the show. In particular, “all you really need is metal, a way to heat the metal and a hammer.”
He built his own forge at his rural Walthall County home and learned from others, like Preston Rushing of Rushing’s Welding in Tylertown, who let him use his shop and taught him about metals, welding and forging.
Jenkinson hopes to make a career out of blade-making. After Southwest he plans to major in metallurgical engineering.
He won competitions and sells his knives around the country via his Facebook page and his “Fred’s Fire and Forge” Instagram account.
It was there that the makers of “Forged in Fire” found out about Jenkinson, and in particular a “fake ‘Forged in Fire’ ” competition he holds with friends.
A scout for the show messaged him on Instagram and asked if he’d be interested in competing on the show.
“I said, ‘Heck yeah, buddy!’ ” Jenkinson said.
But he had reservations.
“If you go on and make a fool of yourself, you could hurt your business,” he said.
On the other hand, if he did well, it could be a huge boost to his fledgling career.
Jenkinson flew to New York in July with his parents, Donald and Kristi. Their visit had a sense of cloak-and-dagger secrecy, as the show’s producers are extra careful not to let word get about the competition, which is recorded for airing later — in this case, Wednesday night.
“They won’t let any spoilers go out. It’s kind of like secret agent. You can’t tell anybody,” Jenkinson said.
“They escort you everywhere. It’s really fun.”
His opponents consisted of an 18-year-old and two middle-aged men. They came from New York, Texas and Florida.
The show airs the night before Halloween and has a Halloween theme: The first weapon they made was a “zombie killer” made from broken blades of previous contestants. For a finale they had to make a war scythe.
Jenkinson was the least experienced contestant. Even the 18-year-old had twice as many years of experience.
But in a way the playing field was even as no one had a chance to practice making such blades.
Working with a time limit added another level of difficulty.
“When I start a project I get done when I get done and mark down the time so I’ll know how much to charge,” Jenkinson said.
“On the show, once that time’s up, you were done, whether you were finished or not, and that was very, very stressful.”
It was hard to know how much time to spend on each phase of blade-making.
“There’s a lot to worry about in a small amount of time,” Jenkinson said,
He said the show motivated him to learn more about time management and forging techniques.
“That show’s a big challenge,” Jenkinson said. “It’s not just doing something you’ve never done before; it’s doing it on television.”
Having a Halloween-themed episode made it especially fun, though, he said.
His fellow competitors were all nice, as were the people he encountered in New York, much to his surprise.
Jenkinson was intrigued by the mix of humanity there, people with accents from such diverse places as Russia, India and Bangladesh.
“It was really interesting meeting people from so many different cultures,” he said. “It felt almost like being in a different country.”