A two-day LEGO Building Competition will take place at specific locations around town during this year’s Solvang Danish Days.

The family-friendly competition, inspired by LEGO, the Danish building block brand, will be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 16-17 as part of the three-day festival weekend that runs Sept. 15-17.

The LEGO contest will feature three of California’s rising stars in the brick-building world, who will compete against each other as they construct their own takes on downsized versions of Solvang Danish Days Parade floats.

The event opens at 10 a.m. Saturday as the builders begin their projects. Stationed in three different competitor throughout the village, the building contest runs until 4 p.m. Visitors can watch for free as the invited pros craft their building-block “floats.”

The construction continues, 10 a.m.-noon on Sunday, followed by judging at 1:45 p.m. and the naming of a winner at 2:30 p.m. during the Solvang Danish Days Closing Ceremony in Solvang Park. The building competition winner will be awarded a cash prize.

The Solvang Danish Days LEGO Building Competition builders and their locations, are:

Jesse Gros – Solvang Brewing Co., 1547 Mission Drive. Gros is a life coach, international retreat leader, and author. He rediscovered LEGO six years ago with his daughter Devon. He is an avid builder known for creating large-scale, custom builds, combining steampunk, pirate, and fantasy genres. Gros’ work has been showcased at The LEGO Store in Glendale, California.

Suzanne Hansen – Solvang Home Connection in courtyard at 425 Alisal Road. Hansen is an engineer for Kern County. She is also a designer who enjoys using paper and LEGO to create, especially after catching the LEGO “bug” in 2017 when she built a model of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” character. Hansen builds everything from microscale to sculptures that are (mostly) lifesize. With a few LEGO shows under her belt, such as the Kern County Fair and Brick Fest Live, she is also a member of the Adult Fans of LEGO User Group of Los Angeles.

Ezra Bermudez – Next to Mortensen’s Danish Bakery, 1588 Mission Drive. A father of two from Crestline, California, Bermudez is a U.S. Army veteran who served as an Abrams tank crew member. Medically discharged for combat injuries, most of Bermudez’s time is now spent building LEGO with his boys, a pastime with which he was reacquainted in 2020 after a 25-year pause. Bermudez praises the benefits of building for his PTSD. Known for his 208 cm unique build, flying pirate battleship The Atalanta,’Bermudez’s favorite themes are his own creations, ranging from dieselpunk and steampunk to city mods, and space.

Assembling the Solvang Danish Days LEGO Building Competition participants and serving as one of the competition’s judges is LEGO artist Allyson Gail, whose food-famous work has been featured on “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” and “The Brothers Brick,” by LEGO. Gail is also a contestant on Season 4 of the FOX competition series “LEGO Masters,” the season premieres Thursday, Sept. 28.

YouTube star Raina Huang, who will compete in Danish Days eating contests, sits at a table covered with plates of food.
YouTube star Raina Huang will compete in Danish Days eating contests. Credit: Courtesy of Raina Huang

Also returning to this year’s Solvang Danish Days weekend is competitive eater and YouTube star, Raina Huang, who will once again travel to the Santa Ynez Valley to compete in a pair of eating challenges on Sunday, Sept. 17.

Huang’s first challenge will be at the Sunday Solvang Danish Days Aebleskiver Eating Contest. During the 2018 version, she broke all modern Solvang Danish Days records by consuming 36 of the doughy pastry balls in the five-minute competition – all hands-free.

Prior to 2018, the Danish Days Aebleskiver Eating Contest record was set in 2016, at 18.5 aebleskiver eaten by one of the non-professional competitors. A non-professional entrant also made Danish Days history in 2018, by raising the “amateur” record to 23 aebleskiver eaten in the allotted five minutes.

The Solvang Danish Days Aebleskiver Eating Contest is featured on Saturday and Sunday. Both contests are free to enter, all ages are welcome, and the public is invited to compete alongside Huang.

Prizes will be awarded to non-professional eaters in two separate age groups, for both days. The all-you-can-eat, five-minute contests will be held at 11:30 a.m. in the Midgaard Pavilion in Parking Lot 2, in downtown Solvang, adjacent to the Danish Days Viking Beer & Wine Garden (must be 21 years or older to enter Viking Beer & Wine Garden).

Huang will tackle a second eating competition at 2 p.m. Sunday — a sausage menu challenge at Copenhagen Sausage Garden, 1660 Copenhagen Drive, near the Danish Days festivities. Huang will work her way through all of the sausage variations currently appearing on the eatery’s menu.

Follow Huang’s Solvang eating adventures on YouTube at youtube.com/@RainaHuang.

Ticket sales for the Solvang Danish Days 2023 are currently available at https://solvang-danish-days-2023.eventbrite.com.