Bricktastic 2015

Post date: Jul 06, 2015 7:53:52 PM

As we reflect back on the Bricktastic LEGO Show at the Huntsville branch of the Madison County Library we are pleased with the new format this show took. This new format would go beyond events held in the auditorium and adjacent conference room and encompass the entire library. In addition, the show was expanded to include more than just the Tennessee Valley LEGO Club with participation from representatives of First LEGO League, Destination Imagination, CURSE, Sci-Quest, Making Connections and others. There were games and events that took place on all three floors of the library including very well attended Book & Bricks build, Bingo and Trivia hosted by members of TNVLC.

One of the remarkable things about this show in relation to the display presented by TNVLC is that it represented a slightly different mix of club members in comparison to past library/summer shows. While the physical presence of pillar club members Charles Naumann, Jennifer Garlen and Pete Campbell was more slight this year, members such as the Bissell and Wales families were able to step in and help make this show a success. TNVLC is growing at a healthy pace and that growth is allowing expanded flexibility to its club members. With a few dozen club members on the roster the pressure of participation in every event is reduced. As a result the events can be more fun and relaxing for everyone.

There were some remarkable MOCs on display at this show including a power-functions collider display which is a work-in-progress by Renee Lowder. This interesting MOC was inspired by the particle accelerator designed by JKBrickWorks. The simplicity of design, which uses 12-volt train track and SNOT techniques to create a circle on which LEGO balls are perpetually "accelerated", attracted a ton of interest and prompted some great STEM conversations!

One of the most fun parts of the weekend for me came in terms of the show support materials provided by individual club members as well as The LEGO Group. While it is true that we had some budget from last year's event for these items, with the expanded format we were worried our giveaways would be diminished. We put the call out to members and the response was overwhelming! Club members contributed from their personal cache of LEGO items as well as from last minute purchases. The generosity of members such as the Joy family assured that our games would be well stocked with prizes. After one of the drawings in which a brother and sister both won sets, their grandmother pulled me aside and gave me a nice hug to say thanks. Giving back to the community is something that TNVLC does well and just feels great!

Then on Friday morning we were excited to see a huge shipment of LEGO shipped overnight and delivered by FEDEX. This shipment from LEGO provided the club with materials and prizes the likes we have never had before. We were able to host a special recognition drawing for club members in which Marla Ellett won the grand prize with Logan Ellett, Jon Joy and Lee Burns also winning great sets.

The club also had a "drive-by" draft in which members were able to pickup a significant infusion of materials. I bet we will see some great new construction in an upcoming show based on the incredible drafts that took place. While this year's draft happened during public hours, I am personally going to work with the library to secure expanded hours for next year's event so that club members can participate in drafts and other games without impacting time with the public.

One of the few down-sides that I have heard in feedback from patrons and club members relates to a general feeling of confusion that this show had. While the library provided patrons with a brochure and schedule, there were a couple of schedule changes and a map of event locations was lacking. This is definitely a lesson our club can learn from and working with library representatives we will do a better job next year of helping people get around. There was also an issue with Bingo in which we didn't anticipate the volume of participation. It was great that people mostly kept their heads though there were a few unhappy folks so next year we will be prepared to support a greater audience.

A Bingo and throughout the show we gave away minifigs randomly. While we didn't have enough to give minifigs to everyone, we did hand out quite a few and hope that in the future we can continue this fun give-away. Kids and adults alike were thrilled to receive the minifigs and the smiles were plentiful!

This year's summer show also saw media coverage by the CBS affiliate WHNT 19 and the NBC affiliate WAFF 48. Reporters from both stations talked to myself and members of the club before and during the show. The extra media coverage helped in bringing attendance numbers to approximately 1100 for both days. While the nice weather and other area events may have drawn down our potential crowd, I think the participants who attended generally had a great time and didn't have to deal with event congestion or long lines.

The Bricktastic LEGO show will further help the Madison County Library system strengthen and grow literacy and educational events for children throughout the rest of 2015 and into 2016. I am looking forward to working with Melissa Shuman in 2016 to plan and execute a bigger and better Bricktastic show. Thank you to everyone who participated!