Lego Winter Village on display at BrickSlopes in Sandy, Utah


Clark Griswold delivers a great line to the holiday movie classic “Christmas Vacation” when he tells his son Rusty about hanging 25,000 twinkling lights: “I’m going to do it right and I’m going to do it big.”

This sportswriter has a similar mentality when it comes to Lego.

This Friday and Saturday, while watching high school football scores across the state, I’ll also be standing inside the ropes at the BrickSlopes Lego fan event in Sandy, displaying my massive Winter Village 90 square foot Lego.

I’m a noob in the world of Lego conventions, but I’m excited to show off a display that lasted four years, is the size of a car, and has about 100,000 pieces.

The Edward family winter exhibit has long outgrown the space in our home and has been relegated to our garage for the winter exhibit.

Last year we installed an outdoor heater on our driveway and held open houses for neighbors to come and view the exhibit. Since then we have expanded the display by 5ft as it now spans from a ski mountain on one side to the coast on the other.

I grew up in Utah, so naturally any of my winter villages absolutely needed a ski mountain, and I channeled my inner Griswold to make it as big as possible. It features a North Pole hidden under the mountain where elves work hard building toys and tending to Santa’s nine reindeer.

I spent an absurd number of hours in the garage working on the town, with my wife, Megan, and my three children, William, Emily and Ben, occasionally helping out. A lot of their work has gone into making sure the details are perfect all over the city.

Last winter someone asked how many Lego pieces were in my display and threw out a completely random number. This week, however, I made a point of weighing the screen as I was packing it for transport to the Mountain America Expo Center and the total came in at around 250 pounds. I found a site online that said about 400 coins equals one pound, which is about 100,000 coins.

Transporting so many parts assembled in sections required about 25 boxes crammed into a van, and luckily nothing major broke.

One thing we’ve tried to do as a family with our display is to create lots of fun hidden details for kids and adults alike to find and enjoy. Flick is glued to the mast like in the scene from “A Christmas Story”. Yoda is attacked by seagulls on the pier. The elves play Super Smash Brothers in the North Pole Break Room, and the Christmas Parade features an appearance from the legendary Kamino High Marching Band, aka the “Star Wars” clone army.

There are dozens more gems like this for BrickSlopes customers to discover.

So how did this sports nut also turn into a Lego nut?

Every year, Lego releases a new winter-themed set. The first set my family bought in the theme was 2012, the coveted Winter Village Cottage. Our eldest was 4 and just starting to get into Legos which was an excuse to buy the set. Every winter since we’ve added the new set, and have gradually found used versions of older retired sets that we originally missed.

Eventually, our modest Lego winter display outgrew the space on our coat, then the space on our kitchen table. It was then that I decided that a simple white sheet to imitate snow was no longer enough. I found my inner Griswold and decided that every inch of the landscape had to be Lego, it was summer 2019.

No Lego display is truly finished, as next week Lego will release the new Winter 2022 set, which has yet to be disclosed. I will have to make room for the build which will inevitably shake things up. A new Lego motorized lighthouse is also coming out this fall, which would one day make a great addition to my coastal scene. This is the life of Lego fans and their cities, constantly urbanized and adjusted.

The first BrickSlopes was held in 2014 and is a visual marvel featuring hundreds of talented Lego builders from Utah and Intermountain West who enjoy displaying their own custom creations.

One of the co-founders of BrickSlopes is Cody Ottley, who I described several years ago about his passion for Lego.

One of the exhibits this year will be Adam Herendeen’s Great Viking Hall, which we featured in a story a few years ago. He is well known as one of Utah’s elite builders and will be exhibiting three massive Viking-themed builds.

Whether you’re an adult Lego fan (AFOL) or your kids love Lego, BrickSlopes is a great weekend activity for the whole family. There’s Star Wars, space, castles, trains, and countless other varieties of exhibits.

Whether you’re looking at my winter exhibit or the hundreds of other builds, say hello to the builders and ask questions because we’re all proud to share the story behind our wild creations.

Fox’s ‘Lego Masters’ season 2 champions – Mark and Steven Erickson – will be special guests at the show this weekend. Our family had a chance to interact with them a bit during Thursday’s set-up day at the Expo Center, and they’re as nice as you’d expect for those who enjoyed watching the reality show the last fall.

James Edward works on his lego set with his family at the BrickSlopes Lego Show at the Mountain American Expo Center in Sandy on Thursday, August 25, 2022. James is the editor of the Deseret News.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

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