Lego competitors build NC State Fair masterpieces

bcain@newsobserver.comOctober 26, 2013 

  • Want to go?

    The prize-winning Lego creations are on display in the Hobbies and Crafts building at the N.C. State Fair.

— Unlike many of their counterparts displaying giant pumpkins and showing grand champion heifers, the youngsters entering the Lego competition at the N.C. State Fair aren’t carrying on a long ribbon-winning tradition started by a grandparent or great-grandparent.

But that doesn’t mean the talented young builders are any less dedicated to their craft.

This is the 11th year that the fair has sponsored its Lego competition for youths. And Josiah Jordan, 12, of Fuquay-Varina, proved his dominance. Jordan, competing in the 10-14 age group, entered a SEPECAT Jaguar British fighter plane model in the Original category and a replica of the R&R Old Fashioned Ice Cream building at the Village of Yesteryear in the N.C. Theme category.

He won first place ribbons and Best of Show ribbons for both – the only Best of Show ribbons awarded for the Lego competition this year.

Jordan has been interested in Legos since before the first grade; he said his entries this year were inspired by his love of airplanes and the knowledge that the R&R building is well-known.

“I knew it was pretty popular, so I decided to make that,” he said. “We had all sorts of pictures of it. We Googled it, but it wasn’t that easy from the pictures we had.”

Mike Walsh of Cary, who has judged the State Fair Lego competitions for more than eight years, said Jordan’s ice cream building stood out.

“As soon as I saw it, I knew exactly what it was,” Walsh said. “It was well-done, a good idea and unique. I’ve never seen anything like that before. In fact, I felt it was one of the best entries I’ve seen submitted in the eight-plus years I’ve been a judge.”

Fun, but hard, work

Constructing the ice cream shop was time-consuming.

“I built the plane because I didn’t know if I’d finish R&R in time,” he said.

Jordan said the fair entries were a lot of fun to build, but the Lego project he’s building now is the most fun: a 4 1/2-foot-long XB-70 Valkyrie airplane. There is only one of the planes left in the world, and Jordan saw it with his parents earlier this year on a trip to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Ohio.

Now that he’s conquered the State Fair contest, Jordan has his sights set on the next level.

“I want to go to a thing in Virginia called BrickFair, but I don’t know if I’m old enough to enter it yet,” he said. “It’s very, very popular. And there are no size restrictions.”

Joe Meno of Raleigh, the founder and editor of BrickJournal magazine and the author of several books about Legos, also judges the competitions at the fair.

Meno is also a fan of Jordan’s work. Meno said his SEPECAT model was “very accurately rendered.”

“A beautiful, gorgeous model,” Meno said. “I’ve seen a lot of plane models, and this one ranked right up there.”

On the ice cream shop, Meno admired Jordan’s determination to nail the small details – the signs on the building, the service window, the three John Deere engines sitting under the shed and the fairgoers milling about.

“He took the time to put everything correctly and had enough detail that you wanted to look all around it,” Meno said.

Details make a difference

In fact, Meno says attention to detail can be the difference between a good creation and a great one.

“My advice for the older kids: I’d go for detail,” said Meno. “If they’re creating a building, take a look around the building and put some things in there that make it distinctly that (building), whether it be the shape of the roof or awnings. … Pay attention and see what makes it what it is.

“And if you’re doing something on a larger scale, make sure you put some people in it. Put some life in it.”

Cain: 919-829-4579

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