Santa Fe's youth gathered at the Community Convention Center Saturday to put their LEGO skills to the test.
The Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association hosted a LEGO building competition that continues Sunday.
Kim Shanahan, the former head of the the association, was on hand to emcee the event. He tells SFR that the group offers their young builders generic LEGO sets rather than the branded sets, like Star Wars and MARVEL, which come with intricate instructions.
The contest, he says, now in its fourth year, is designed to foster and reward creativity—and to help draw a crowd for its annual Home Show.
"The spirit of the event is to celebrate good custom builders," Shanahan says, whether they are professional home builders or preteens making LEGO spaceships. "Some of these kids would make great architects," he adds.
The competition began about four years ago, when Shanahan realized that the association needed more young people and parents getting involved. He started the competition in an attempt to lure a younger crowd.
The first competition took place a week before Meow Wolf opened. Shanahan contacted the group and asked for 160 free passes to hand out to kids ahead of the gallery's opening day. Meow Wolf continues to sponsor the event, alongside Del Norte Credit Union and several others.
Winners in each age category earn checks for $100. Second place gets a group pass to the Santa Fe Children's Museum, and the third place winner nets a free LEGO set. All participants also receive a goody bag that included a Meow Wolf pass
On Saturday, four groups of kids ages 5-8 and another four ages 9-12 went head to head, pitting their LEGO constructions against each other. The competitors were instructed to build something that represented the future, and had 20 minutes to get it done. Many built spaceships, but Shanahan told them that their creations did not have to be anything out of science fiction.
"If your future is a farm where you raise chickens, build that," he says.
"This is the best part of my week," says Katherine Crociata, who is the association's new director and served as one of the competition's judges.
Fia McCoy, the winner of the second group of 5-9 year olds on Saturday, tells SFR at first she was unsure on how she would spend her prize money. Her mother suggested a puppy, but Fia eventually settled on toys.
Sean Baez, one of the rockets designers and student at EJ Martinez Elementary School, took first place in Saturday's last round.
About five walk-up slots remain for for the Sunday event starting at 10 am, for 5-8 year olds and about an hour later for 9-12 year olds.