COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Happening this weekend, the Arnold Sports Festival is back in Columbus for its 35th year, and organizers said it is here to stay.

What began as a bodybuilding competition in 1989 has since grown to include hundreds of vendors and niche competitions like professional tag.

This year marks the festival’s full return since 2019; the COVID-19 pandemic caused numerous format changes since 2020.

When the convention tied to the competitions was canceled that year, before a single COVID-19 case was reported in Ohio, Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed frustration, hinting the event could change locations in the future.

Organizers this week said they’re confident the event will be staying in Columbus.

“We have contracts in front of us for ’24, ’25 ’26 that we expect to execute shortly after the event, and we’ll be here next year,” said Brent LaLonde, senior event manager for the Arnold Sports Festival. “The event has been here for 35 years. Columbus is the home of the event, and we look forward to staying here for a while.”

The festival will take place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center starting Thursday and running daily through Sunday. For more information including schedules and tickets, click here.