Exhibiting – Where to start.

By Mark Kraska

Some may recognise my name as one half of the operators from the travelling brick fairground which my wife Judi and I take around the country.

Exhibiting our display has given us a new lease of life and opened up so many doors for us that we are now part of the team that help run this very LUG.

One of the things that we found when we started that there is very little info about having a go at exhibiting yourself. So I’ve written this little guide based on our experiences,

First show – Room for improvement

So you’ve built a MOC (My Own Creation), what now?

Put it on the shelf? Show it to friends? Take a few pictures and show the whole world via the magic of the internet? Or perhaps take the big step into the world of exhibiting to the general public!

What do you need to do?

First off, make sure your build passes muster and will hold it’s own at a show. You can get some feedback on your build by showing friends and family, don’t be frightened of criticism. Show it to other members of the LUG, ask their opinion etc. Visit an existing show and take some pictures, ask exhibitors that are there what they think. They were you once!  

So you passed that test and are still interested in showing. You need to find a show that you’d like to display at. Start off with something small and preferably local. You’re not going to get paid to attend, more on this later, so you’ll want to keep expenses to a minimum. Contact the show organiser directly or fill out the Exhibitors form when it appears on the website/forum or Facebook page. Be prepared to provide some basic info. For instance, how much space do you need, this is usually measured in table requirements, Do you really need 4 tables for some thing that fits on a 48 x 48 baseplate? Do you require power, how many people are required to operate the model if applicable. Do you want lunch? And you may be asked to provide pictures of your build. You stand a greater chance of attending if it offers something different to other models. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get in at first, you can always ask for feedback and then try again.

If you do get accepted to show, you’ll find out shortly before the event what time you need to be there to setup your display. Sometimes this can be the night before or maybe just on the morning of the show. Normally you’ll have a couple of hours. Plan how you are going to get your MOC to the show. Doe it come into sections? Will it fit in a box, or indeed the car. Have some dummy runs where you load into the method of transport you’ll be using and set your model up when you get it back home. Is it in one piece, or has it collapsed. Nothing worse than a total rebuild with the public waiting to come through the doors! If you’re packing into boxes, you could use bubble wrap to keep movement down. Also, time yourself so you know how long it takes.

Bricklincs 2019 – Now with baseplates

Don’t forget to factor in how long it will take you to get to a venue, have you got a tablecloth to cover your table, black cotton bed sheets are perfect for this. If you asked for power, have you got an extension lead, is it PAT tested? Or extra batteries if you need them.  Take some spare parts. A travel cup might be needed for refreshments. If you’re taking your own vehicle you’ll need to know if you can park at a venue, normally you can but sometimes it’s only possible to stop while you unload and then you’ll need to find a parking spot.

As I said earlier you don’t get paid to exhibit at the vast majority of shows. You’ll have to be content with a Printed Event Brick, possibly a small thank you set and a free lunch and refreshments. And of course the wonderful public telling you what a fantastic model you’ve built and that they didn’t know that you could do that with a few plastic bricks! Don’t be frightened of the public or fellow builders. You’ll probably be asked many questions over the course of a show so have a few answers ready.

Bristol Brick Show 2022 – Latest event

So you’ve survived all that and want to go to more shows, what now? Keep looking out for details of other shows. Can you get there in a day, if not you’ll need to factor in things like hotel costs (especially for two shows), meals, petrol costs, pet care, possibly time off work.

Exhibiting can mean a lot of organisation and little tiring but it can be very rewarding, you’ll meet new friends, visit some incredible venues and be able to take pride in your display.

This is how Judi and I started just a few years ago from humble beginnings, where things didn’t always go as planned nor was the presentation that good in hindsight, to where we are today continuing to develop our build and use it as both a source of inspiration to others and for the enjoyment of all.

Now what are you waiting for…get building!