Valerie Kalfrin

Brickworld showcases Tampa-area Lego enthusiasts, creations

An overview of Brickworld at the Florida State Fairgrounds / Courtesy of Brickworld

An overview of Brickworld at the Florida State Fairgrounds / Courtesy of Brickworld

If the click and shuffle of Lego bricks makes you say “Awesome!” like a character in “The LEGO Movie,” head to the Florida State Fairgrounds for a world of wonder this weekend.

For the second year, the fan-based expo Brickworld brings together Lego enthusiasts, their creations and Lego-inspired activities to fill 40,000 square feet. Last year’s event included mosaics and models such as replicas of India’s Taj Mahal and “The Creation of Adam” fresco from the Sistine Chapel; a robotic chess set of more than 100,000 pieces; a pint-sized version of downtown Tampa with a moving train; and a Tampa Yankees ballgame with mini Star Wars stormtroopers as spectators. (The stormtroopers, holding a Lego pretzel snack, and a giant figure of Benny from “The LEGO Movie” are my 5-year-old son’s favorites in a YouTube video of last year’s Brickworld highlights.)

Bryan Bonahoom, Brickworld’s executive director, said the event is designed for families and Lego fans of all ages to enjoy what can be built from just the tiny multicolored bricks and the imagination. About 6,700 people attended the event last year, he said. Because of word of mouth, he anticipates at least 8,000 attendees this year.

The Lego brick originated in Denmark from a company that in the 1930s manufactured wooden toys. The name stems from the Danish words LEg GOdt, meaning “play well,” according to the Lego Group website. The plastic Lego brick we know today was launched in 1958 with interlocking tubes that offer unlimited building possibilities, the company says.

A Lego fan and builder himself, Bonahoom calls the brick “the world’s most flexible art and engineering medium.” Brickworld started in Schaumberg, Illinois, in 2007 and has expanded to annual expos in Indiana and Tampa. The cooperation and enthusiasm of the Greater Florida Lego Train Club and the Orange County Lego User Group brought the event to Florida, Bonahoom said.

Although these local builders provide the backbone, the expo includes displays from Lego fans from as far as Boston, Massachusetts and Toronto, Canada, Bonahoom said.

I interviewed a 13-year-old boy from Oldsmar who will have a display featuring a castle he built from scratch for my story in today’s Tampa Tribune.