Off the Couch: Build your weekend with Jfest, barbecue and Legos

Massive Lego displays, complete with lights and moving mechanics like this "Joker's Funhouse" Gotham creation, will be part of BrickUniverse, a Lego fan convention taking place Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19, at the Chattanooga Convention Center. / Photo from BrickUniverse

LISA DENTON: Barry, you're a dad, so I'd be willing to bet you've cursed a Lego or two, probably in the middle of the night. But a convention taking place this weekend at the Chattanooga Convention Center will remind us why we should appreciate these little engineering marvels.

BARRY COURTER: Just out of curiosity, I googled to see if "Lego foot" is a real ailment, and while there are pictures of people stepping on the night terrors, it didn't make the list of 10 common foot problems. Would have bet it had.

My stepson and son were both huge Lego fans, and it is being passed on to the grandkids. What a great toy, though I have to admit I am neither artistic nor an engineer. All of my Lego builds involved stacking them until they were so tall they fell over.

Probably why my Dad used to say, "Not everyone is a quarterback, son."

LISA: I love your dad's wry wit. (And also your keen insight, Bill.)

The thing about Legos is that they've gotten really complex through the years. I was never really good at freestyling with them, but I don't know that I'd be any better with the kits that come with step-by-step directions. Like my Aunt Bob, who was trying to "help" her 10-year-old great-grandson put a Lego build together the other day. He finally told her, "You just turn the pages."

BARRY: Management material, right there.

photo Lisa Denton and Barry Courter

LISA: There's also a free bluegrass festival debuting Saturday at Miller Park. Jim Johnson, who founded here 15 years ago, says moving to Chattanooga changed his life so he is sponsoring the festival to express his gratitude. He's scheduled it during Ironman weekend so that athletes and families will have something to do before the race.

BARRY: That's pretty cool on many levels. Set to perform are some good local acts: Caney Creek Company, Grandview Mountain Pickers and the New Dismembered Tennesseans. Barefoot Nellie & Company will lead a jam at 3 p.m., and anyone and everyone is welcome to participate. There will also be a farmers market.

LISA: And Mission BBQ on Gunbarrel Road is offering a patriotic salute this week. Different branches of the armed forces have a designated day to get a free sandwich: Army on Monday, Marines on Tuesday, Navy on Wednesday, Air Force on Thursday and Coast Guard on Friday. Then Saturday, all veterans and active-duty military can get a free sandwich from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you time it right, you can sing along to the national anthem at noon. They're celebrating Armed Forces Week. Chattanooga always celebrates earlier in the month with the big parade and luncheon downtown, but technically Armed Forces Day is the third Saturday in May.

And if you miss out on that barbecue, you can get an $8 barbecue meal Sunday at the Red Fez Shrine Club off Lee Pike in Soddy-Daisy. They do a great job moving people through the drive-through line (or you can eat there), and they do a great job with the barbecue too.

BARRY: And Jfest is Saturday at the Tennessee Riverpark. Remember, it is moving there for the first year after being held at Camp Jordan for many years. It outgrew that space. They always have a strong lineup of contemporary Christian artists.

I'm really curious to see how the Riverpark handles the crowd, and the parking. It could mean we see other events there in the future, and rumor has it Jfest might like to go to a two-day event.

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Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281. Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.