Writer / Heather Chastain
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Brickworld Indy is returning March 18-19 to a larger space. This year, the event will be held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Brickworld Indy boasts 60,000 square feet of spectacular creations built with LEGO bricks by LEGO enthusiasts.
Some of the displays are coming from local designers, but others are coming from as far as Minneapolis, New Hampshire and Toronto.
“We are always making sure we have the best displays,” said Brickworld Executive Director Bryan Bonahoom.
Hobbyists spend countless hours putting together these labors of love.
“Visitors can plan to spend a few hours at the show,” Bonahoom said. “The details from these displays can’t be seen by just walking by. There are little Easter eggs in there – the intricate details – like a pile of rocks with the Incredible Hulk trying to get out, or a guy floating on an iceberg fishing with dynamite. Just some silly humor and cute things that add to the display.”
You can expect to see 70 to 80 different displays. Some are as large as 500 square feet. One of the biggest displays this year is a space mining colony about 8-feet wide by 64-feet long.
“It’s always fun to put up,” Bonahoom said. “We don’t have an exact plan. We don’t put it together the same way each time. Each time, it’s a new creation. It may be subtle to some, but it’s major to us.”
Bonahoom said some of the best LEGO builders are kids in their mid to late teens. He said this year Tyler Halliwell, a 22-year-old artist from Lafayette, will have a phenomenal display. Halliwell has only been building with LEGOS for about five years.
“I have focused on organic designs for the past four years and enjoy building in that style because it contrasts starkly with what people expect to see done with Lego bricks,” Halliwell said. “Most people come to shows and expect mini figure-scale layouts of space ships, towns, castles and other nostalgic LEGO themes. I like to make things that surprise people with that same childhood toy.”
Brickworld is different than LEGOLAND.
“Our shows are more about the displays than the activities like at kids LEGO shows,” Bonahoom said. “People have often described our shows like a museum. Look but don’t touch. We are focused on the art and engineering.”
That doesn’t mean kids aren’t welcome at the shows.
“We love having the kids come and see what we’ve done and imagine what they can do,” Bonahoom said. “One of my favorite questions to ask kids when they leave is ‘are you going to go home and build?’ The answer is almost always ‘Yes!’”
Always working to make themselves better builders, these hobbyists come from all walks of life. Some are teachers, construction workers or engineers, like Bonahoom. He said being part of the adult LEGO club was not something he planned to be a part of. An engineer for more than 30 years, Bonahoom said he had never even played with LEGOS until a friend came to town for a First LEGO League team competition in 2002.
“I had never played with LEGOS, but after learning about that competition, I was interested to go and check it out,” Bonahoom said. “By the end of the thing, I was signing up to volunteer and learn more.”
In 2007, Bonahoom and Adam Reed Tucker organized the first Brickworld in Chicago. Tucker moved on, but Bonahoom began the Indy show in 2009 and then added Ft. Wayne, Tampa and Michigan. The Windy City is their flagship location, though it’s structured more like a convention with classes, workshops and competitions.
Tickets to Brickworld Indy are now on sale. You can buy them online at Brickworld.com or at the door. General admission is $12. Military and first responders are $9 with valid ID. Kids 3 and under are free.