Starting Saturday and continuing today, the city of Solvang is hosting its first annual LEGO building competition. Due to the city’s Danish roots, there could be few better places for a celebration of the famous Danish block-building brand.
LEGO is the inspiration behind the two-day, family friendly competition, which will pit top LEGO builders against each other as they construct their own versions of Solvang’s five fabled Danish bakeries.
“We wanted to gather some of the biggest lego builders in and outside the California area and to bring more awareness to Solvang and the community,” Allyson Gail told the News-Press when asked what inspired the event. Ms. Gail is the Event Manager and LEGO coordinator and will also serve as a judge in the competition. Ms. Gails’ work has been featured on The Kelly Clarkson Show and The Brick Brothers by LEGO.
“We would love to make this an annual event. So far we have had a lot of success today a lot of people have shown up and are swarming the tables. We would love to do this again,” said Ms. Gail.
The event kicked off at 10 a.m. Saturday, as the builders began their projects with Solvang’s Northern European architecture and ambience as a back-drop for the event. Saturday’s build ran through 4 p.m., with the public invited to watch as the invited pros worked their building blocks into their best version of a storybook bakery.
LEGO blocks were originally made of wood. The Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen created the first version of the building blocks in the 1930s. Denmark is still home to the original LEGOLAND and LEGO House.
“Solvang’s Danish roots and authentic heritage seemed the perfect fit for this family-oriented spring event, celebrating one of Denmark’s most famous exports. We’re thrilled to have some of the top LEGO block builders in the nation joining us for this fun Danish tribute, and we look forward to welcoming locals and visitors to this first-ever event,” said Scott Shuemake, Executive Producer with Cogs & Marvel, planners and organizers of the inaugural Solvang LEGO Building Competition.
There are 10 competitors, some professionals and some not. One of the registered participants is none other than Zack Macasaet, block builder extraordinaire featured on Season 2 of the FOX competition series LEGO Masters. Also slated for the Solvang competition is Bill Vollbrecht, a former Master Model Designer and LEGOLAND Parks designer; Mariann Asanuma, the world’s first female freelance LEGO artist and former Master Model Designer at LEGOLAND California, where she was the first American woman to hold that LEGOLAND title; Gwyneth Kozbial, a writer for BrickNerd; and Chris Wight, whose LEGO craftwork has helped with projects for the LA Auto Show and the construction of an oversized model of the neurology wing at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Another noteworthy competitor is Tiffany Thompson, who was having audience members help her find different LEGO pieces according to Ms. Gail.
“We have 10 builders dispersed throughout the town in big white tents in high traffic areas so people can see what they are building and come over and talk. It is a very busy day, there are a lot of people. It’s really nice to see groups come to people. One of my favorite things I saw today was when I went to visit some of the female builders, I saw a bunch of little girls come up and get all starry eyed and want to do it to,” said Ms. Gail.
The projects include replicas of bakeries around town, lifesize food out of lego, a viking ship, large windmills and more as competitors are taking inspiration from throughout the town. Mr. Volbrecht is making a replica of a chef with his daughter, featuring Danish pastries.
There will be a judging period today at 12:00 p.m. followed by a 1:00 p.m. Awards Ceremony for the best build, both to be held at the Solvang Visitor Center,1639 Copenhagen Drive. Prizes will be awarded to the top three builders in the competition.
“The townspeople have been so warm and welcoming. They gave the whole group a tour and some pastries to taste. We got a tour of all the bakeries and all the places around Solvang. Someone even played the accordion for us, it was really magical and welcoming, it almost feels like a second home,” said Ms. Gail.