CREATIVITY? It’s a snap


GREENFIELD — As the cogs and belts of Doug Davis’ LEGO exhibit started to shift and spin, Marley Meyer’s face lit up.

The 10-year-old stood in front of a towering display of little LEGO bricks Davis had assembled to construct a scene from a Star Wars movie. Davis sent his creation into motion, and Marley and his mother, Kim Meyer of Greenfield, watched excitedly as the colorful blocks and figures twirled in front of them.

“Oh, wow,” the boy whispered, as his mother glanced over at him and smiled.

The Meyers were among hundreds of families who visited the two-day Greenfield Brick Expo, conducted during the weekend at the Hancock County 4-H Fairgrounds. The annual event packs the local exhibit hall with giant LEGO brick structures of all shapes and sizes built by members of IndyLUG, or the Indiana LEGO Users Group.

The event serves as a gathering where IndyLUG members can interact with other LEGO lovers, show off their favorite designs and hopefully inspire youngsters to take up building, which incorporates a number of educational processes, said Brian Alano, president of IndyLUG.

The group started in 2001 and brings together adults interested in crafting with LEGO kits. IndyLUG participants span the state, and dozens came to Greenfield for the expo.

Building with LEGO bricks gets young students thinking about the importance of science, technology and math, organizers said. Adults showing off their LEGO building skills encourages kids to push engineering and creativity to the limit, said Alano, who works as an engineer for the U.S. Navy.

“This is really just a hobby for most of us, but it is fun to see the way the kids’ faces light up,” he said.

Greenfield residents Devon Woodburn and Billy McGill started the Greenfield Brick Expo in 2012 as a fundraiser for local organizations that aimed to bring LEGO building kits into local classrooms. Though Woodburn and McGill have since turned their efforts elsewhere, IndyLUG members keep coming to Greenfield each year to show off their creations, said Davis, who organized this year’s event.

Like many state LEGO organizations, IndyLUG members often travel across the country to show off what they’ve built, all while encouraging youngsters to take on projects of their own, said Bryan Bonahoom of Fishers.

Bonahoom is executive director and co-founder of Brickworld, a LEGO organization that hosts sizable expos in Chicago, Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. He said the Greenfield Brick Expo gives participants the chance to test out their new designs on a smaller crowd before taking them on the road to larger regional or state expos.

The LEGO displays presented last weekend ranged from miniature models to detailed, interactive, scenes that stood several feet tall and spread the length of several banquet tables. Some, like Davis, created futuristic worlds from the little bricks; others, like Franklin resident Scott Wright, turned to history, with replicas of Civil War battles, World War II battleships and military forts.

Stephen Wilson of Indianapolis said he likes to imagine in modern times. He presented a model of a small town, complete with homes, a fire station and several businesses. Each building came straight out of his imagination, he said, and he considered every detail little LEGO community members would need to survive.

Each apartment in the display included a shower and bathroom, and the fire station was built large enough to house an entire battalion crew. In the courthouse, a LEGO judge sat before a LEGO jury listening to LEGO lawyers make their case. Upstairs in the same building, the mayor met with advisers as LEGO skeletons came creeping out of his closet — a good-natured jab at the plastic politician.

Wilson studied architecture in college and worked in landscaping for years before he retired. That background keeps him detail-oriented, he said, but he builds with LEGO bricks for fun.

“I do this for the kids,” Wilson said. “It’s great to see that sparkle in their eye.”

Meeting adults like Wilson shows kids they can use their imagination at any age, said Bree Young, a Perry Township mom who attended the expo with her children.

Seeing the displays teaches the kids about resourcefulness and gets them thinking about how every little piece plays an important part, she said.

“This is a great way for them to be creative,” Young said.

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