GREENFIELD — After proving popular with audiences both young and old in its first year, the Greenfield Brick Expo is returning to wow Lego-lovers at the Hancock County Fairgrounds this weekend.
Last year, the sprawling Lego display attracted more than 2,200 people to the fairgrounds, where exhibitors showed off creations that took some of them years to complete.
It was the first fundraiser for the newly formed Greenfield Lego User Education group, which raises money to provide educational Lego tools to local classrooms.
Last year, the brick expo raised $11,000. A portion of those proceeds went to exhibitors and overall expenses, but the remainder was used to purchase supplemental classroom materials, said Devon Woodburn, one of the group’s founders.
Woodburn, 32, founded the group along with Billy McGill, 33, in hopes of sparking local youth interest in an educational activity.
Lego, a Danish company, was founded in 1932. Its name derives from the Danish words, “leg godt,” meaning “play well,” according to the company website.
The popular child’s toy has spawned clubs and organizations throughout the world, as well as competitions and conventions where enthusiasts gather to show off their skills.
This year’s show will feature a few familiar favorites – the 35,000-brick replica of Lucas Oil Stadium, to name one – and some new displays as well.
Exhibitor Bryan Bonahoom helped design what promises to be one of the most popular displays – monster chess.
The chess set is not only impressive in size but movement, Bonahoom said. The pieces are robotic and manipulated by computer, allowing players to play against one another or a computer.
Bonahoom, 47, of Fishers, is the director of research and development for Precise Path Robotics, an Indianapolis-based company. He said whenever someone watches robots like those in monster chess in action, they’re impressed.
“The first time someone sees a creation that size, of course, their jaw drops,” he said. “And then when they recognize that not only does it move, but it thinks and plays the game itself, they’re awestruck.”
Steve Hassenplug, 47, of West Lafayette, is a software engineer who also had a hand in creating the monster chess board.
The board is 169 square feet, and each piece is about 2 feet tall. Hassenplug said with four people working on the project, it still took about a year to complete.
Unlike Lego creations that exhibitors can display and then build on to, the chess board couldn’t be unveiled until its completion, Hassenplug said.
“This is about 100,000 pieces,” he said. “It was pretty much until we were done with it, we didn’t have much to show for it.”
This year’s show will also feature a display of the new Friends Lego line, which is geared toward girls.
Woodburn was pleasantly surprised by last year’s attendance and hopes for a similar turnout this year.
There have already been discussions about expanding the event to two buildings next year, instead of confining it to the exhibit hall.
“It’ll basically double the size of it,” she said.
This year, Woodburn would like to see some of the proceeds fund start-up costs for a First Lego League. That’s a robotics program for 9- to 16-year-olds designed to get children excited about science and technology. First Lego Leagues also compete in tournaments with their Lego creations.
Woodburn said she and other G.L.U.E. members will be scouting at the expo for a potential leader to organize the local group.