For years, the Arnold Sports Festival has attracted thousands of young athletes who show their skills in a wide range of competitions. Now, organizers are offering youth even more reasons to attend the event that began in 1989 as a bodybuilding competition founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

For years, the Arnold Sports Festival has attracted thousands of young athletes who show their skills in a wide range of competitions. Now, organizers are offering youth even more reasons to attend the event that began in 1989 as a bodybuilding competition founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Arnold SportsWorld Kids & Teens Expo, which debuted at the festival in 2015, offers a variety of family-friendly fun, said event director Lea Coburn. “The idea is to give youth more opportunities to participate in or be exposed to all different kinds of activities,” she said.

Expanding the focus on the younger demographic made sense because most event participants are ages 5-18, Coburn said. “We decided—since the majority of our competitors are youth—why don't we add more opportunities for them to come and try different things.”

This year, in addition to watching gymnastics, martial arts, baton twirling, lacrosse, boxing and dozens of other competitions, kids can try more than 20 different hands-on stations at no cost, Coburn said. “This gives our youth the chance to experience new activities. At a competition, you can't try something,” she said. “Now, we have an area where they can try things. You can go in and see what something is all about.”

Kids can check out everything from bull riding to zip lining. The expo, which takes place in the Bricker Building at the Ohio Expo Center & State Fair, also will feature contests, games, demonstrations, face painting, video games and more.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, Columbus Clippers, Columbus Crew SC and the Ohio Machine are among the organizations hosting demonstration areas. Other local organizations will present tips on healthful lifestyles.

A Spartan Kids Race for ages 5 and older will send pairs through a quarter-mile obstacle course or on a team relay (both events have a registration fee; go to spartan.com). The finals of Arnold's Quest for Talent will be held at 1 p.m. March 4, while the Miss Arnold Teen Fitness Pageant begins at noon March 5.

Children ages 14 and younger are admitted to the expo free when accompanied by an adult. A daily ticket also provides entry to most Arnold-related events at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. A free shuttle runs between the venues.