KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Lego fans from all over our area will be able to meet professional artists over the weekend through the Lego Fan Convention at the World’s Fair Exhibition Hall. It’s been several years since they’ve had the convention here.
COVID-19 made it harder for the City of Knoxville to book events like this one and for organizers to set up events. Throughout the pandemic, a lot of conventions had to cancel their shows.
This is the first time since 2019 that the Lego Convention has been here in Knoxville. Organizers had to cancel several events over the past two years, but artists say they are excited to be back in Knoxville.
“For all intents and purposes, we’re somewhat back to normal,” said Lego Bricks artist, Jonathan Lopes. “This is our fourth time in Knoxville and my expectation is to see people that I saw at our last shows here and just kind of reconnect with them.”
Fans will be able to see life-sized Lego displays including major landmarks and meet professional artists.
“Prior to COVID’s happening we were having a banner year at all four facilities, and then covid happened, and the phone did not stop ringing with events canceling one after the other,” said ASM Knoxville General Manager Mary Bogert.
ASM Knoxville manages the city’s four largest event venues. This year they’ve hit record numbers with the Civic Auditorium and Coliseum booking over 40 touring shows and the Convention Center and World’s Fair Exhibition Hall having 500 events booked.
“We measure business at Chilhowee Park a little bit differently, but Chilhowee Park last year saw a 78% increase in community usage,” adds Bogert.
However, due to COVID, over the past two years, that wasn’t always the case.
“We dropped down to 30 bookings,” she said, referencing the years prior.
Not only did it impact the City of Knoxville, but it impacted those who count on conventions to make a living, like Lopes.
“The pandemic really hit a lockdown in March of 2020 and we were lucky that before March, between January and March, we had already done five Brick Universe shows. So just speaking financially, that kind of sustained me through that year along with doing some commission pieces,” he said.
These conventions help bring in a steady income to artists and the Knoxville community.
“Hotel-motel tax is up for the city. We beat, this year, we just closed, 71% up in hotel-motel tax over the previous year. So is looking great, we’re very encouraged, and a lot of events and entertainment, and conventions are back,” said Bogert.
The Lego Convention will be in town all weekend. Doors will be open from 10 a.m. From 4 p.m.