Jimmy Paton probably didn’t know it at the time.
But a decade ago when he decided to put his Lego work on display at the James Cumming Wing in Gore he smashed down a whole lot of barriers.
It was the opening weekend of duck shooting in 2013 and he invited anyone interested to come and have a look at his collection. Other Lego users, including Gavin Evans, helped Paton with the display.
About 2500 people turned up, and as Evans points out it brought a whole heap of adult Lego enthusiasts “out of the closet”.
Evans was one of six people who agreed to join Paton in displaying their Lego work that weekend.
“When you think the population of Gore is about 10,000 and to have 2500 come, it was big. We had guys in their duck shooting gear on the Sunday morning saying their families came yesterday and they had to come for a look as well.
“We knew we were onto something. This was well before the uptick in Lego’s popularity and it became more mainstream.
“It’s quite a coming out of the closet sort of thing in the south saying, ‘I’m an adult fan of Lego’.”
“It was a very awakening moment for myself. It was something that was very personal to me, even a lot of my close friends and family didn’t know I had any Lego, let alone collected it to the level I did.”
It prompted Evans to launch a new club called Lug South, the Lego Users Group in Southland. They’ve since had the tick of approval from the Lego company itself and become a “recognised” Lego users group.
The purpose of the group is to share its passion for Lego with the general public and also benefit, directly or indirectly, any child that is sick, disabled, or disadvantaged through charitable work.
Lug South has grown Paton’s initial event at the James Cumming Wing in Gore and put on an annual Brick Show at ILT Stadium Southland.
The event regularly pulls in about 5000 people over two days. It makes it one of Invercargill’s bigger annual events.
It’s a significant undertaking for the club made up of volunteers but they have worked hard to keep entry to the Brick Show to just $2 per person to ensure everyone has the opportunity to attend.
They’ve managed to do that through the backing of ILT with its ongoing funding since 2016 helping cover the costs attached to the popular event, and other events for that matter.
“Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do that, that’s brutally honest. If they didn’t help us to cover the cost of the event, we would be putting up a large barrier to parts of our community to come along [through ticket pricing],” Evans said.
Although ILT’s funding has stretched beyond just the Brick Show itself.
It has put money towards the club’s purchase of display tables and the ILT board has just signed off on the funding for what Evans says will be something special.
He remained tight-lipped on exactly what it will be, but the latest round of funding is being put towards something unique and impressive which will be unveiled at the 2024 Brick Show at ILT Stadium Southland.
In a fitting touch, Lug South will this year take its main event back to Gore, 10 years on from when Paton first decided to put his work on display to the public in the Southland town. It will be held at the Gore Town & Country Club in August.