Robots from the future are coming to the Meadowlands. Entire cities will spring up overnight. Unique race cars will be built in minutes and compete for prizes.
And the kids will love it.
“Brick Fest Live is an event we created to inspire, educate, and entertain families and children, all with the use of Lego brick and construction toys,” said Chad Collins, the creator of Brick Fest Live, which is coming to the Meadowlands Exposition Center on July 11-13. The event will feature interactive displays where kids can build and play with Lego contructions, while vendors sell Lego sets and accessories.
“There will be several hundred thousand Lego bricks on the show floor,” said Collins. “We want to spark creativity and have kids use their imagination, building in ways they have never built before. We have a 20-by-20 foot square wall that you can build Lego horizontally out toward you.”
Among the other features will be a Lego themed miniature golf course and the Brick Fest Live Derby, where kids build and race cars down a 35-foot ramp.
In case you were wondering, there is a growing subculture of Lego fans; one that’s not only huge, it’s fiercely dedicated. And it’s not all kids.
“There will be several hundred thousand Lego bricks on the show floor.” --Chad Collins
This has resulted in an increase of adult model-makers and, naturally, events catering to them. “A lot of the other Lego fests that take place in the country are considered adult fan of Lego --AFOL –conventions,” Collins explained. “The primary focus in a show like that is to come and look at custom creations built by Lego clubs and adults. What we’re trying to do which is different is instead of ‘look don’t touch,’ it’s ‘come see, look, and touch.’ ”
The muse of Brick Fest
Collins actually has a co-creator and inspiration in founding Brick Fest Live. Two and a half years ago, his daughter Jordyn was 7 years old when he first bought her a Lego set. Immediately Jordyn asked if they could have a Lego YouTube channel.
Thus was born “Your Creative Friends,” named by Jordyn. “The second video that we put up got really popular,” her dad explained. “Tens of thousands of views. That motivated us to make more videos.”
Currently the channel has 17,000 subscribers and over 10 million views. “Through the success of that channel and popularity on YouTube, we created relationships with vendors,” said Collins. “It also let us set up a relationship with Lego directly, where Lego would invite us to toy fairs to see what’s coming out and review it.”
After attending fairs around the country, Collins was surprised to find that nobody had thought to bring one to the Philadelphia area, where they lived.
“I have an entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs. I like to implement things. I think that for anyone, once you put your mind to it you can do whatever you want.”
And so he did. Utilizing his experience at creating trade show events for his former employer, the startup company Paylock (vendor of “parking management solutions” like car boots with a keypad), he launched the first Philadelphia Brick Fest, which took place this past April.
The event was enough of a success that Collins decided to take the show on the road.
“Obviously the Meadowlands wasn’t too far of a jump for us, and it was another city that hadn’t had an event like this,” he said. “But this time we have even more hands-on attractions.”
Quitting his day job to run the new venture, Collins already has additional shows booked in Florida, Maryland, and elsewhere. “I have three fulltime employees and we’re fabricating attractions, looking for venues, managing our vendors, all the stuff that goes into running a production and taking it on the road,” said Collins.
Plus there are the ongoing YouTube videos that Collins produces with his daughter. “She’s our primary tester,” said the proud dad.
Not a bad gig for a 9-year-old.
Asked about the age of their target audience, Collins said, “It’s for chldren of all ages. There’s something for everyone.”
Tickets cost $27 and are available through www.brickfestlive.com until July 11, then at the door on the day of the show. Children 2 and under get in for free. There will be two different sessions each day, with tickets allowing admission to a specific 4.5-hour block of time.
“After the time slot we can clean up, put the bricks back, and have the next session start and it’s like starting all over again,” Collins said.
Art Schwartz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.