Arnold Sports Festival is back in Columbus. 5 great moments in history

It’s back!

Well, to be fair, it never really left. But for the first time since the pandemic hit in 2020, the Arnold Sports Festival is back close to the form that so many participants and attendees have come to love and enjoy.

Starting Thursday, the extravaganza will again take over the Greater Columbus Convention Center and other locales around the city — but this time with spectators in attendance, more sports included and vendors filling the popular Arnold Expo.

What to know:Why a sports festival named after Arnold Schwarzenegger is held in Columbus every year

With all the cancellations and scaled-back events of the past two years in the rearview mirror, here’s a look back at some of the great moments in Arnold history as the four-day event begins.

Body builders participating in the 14 annual Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic acknowledge the crowd gathered at the Veterans Memorial for the prejudging of the Classic.  Body builders on the stage waving are Jay Cutler at left and Chris Cormier.

Arnold Classic debuts in 1989

The Arnold started in 1989 as a one-day bodybuilding event that drew a crowd of 4,000 people to Veterans Memorial on March 11.

Fans began arriving two hours early ahead of the 7 pm show, according to former Dispatch reporter Barbara Carmen. Most waited quietly, but Carmen saw a few young bodybuilders unsuccessfully try to muscle their way backstage.

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