This post is written by Kristian Campana. Kristian has visited and documented more than 300 festivals on his blog When he isn’t writing about festivals, he is working jobs as an accountant and Italian translator, traveling with his wife and son or concocting some dish in the kitchen. Kristian resides in Oberlin.

Starting in late February, more than 170,000 festival fans will flock to downtown Columbus for the annual Arnold Sports Festival, where they will find 18,000 athletes participating at various venue locations, 800 vendors at the Arnold Expo, all sorts of celebrity athletes and even Arnold himself.

At first glance, the festival may sound overwhelming to the first-timer, but it’s really not if you know why your there. Based on your purpose of attending the festival, here are some tips on how to get the most out of it:

arnold 51.) For the competitions: With more than 45 sporting events, this alone can be a little overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to look to the schedule at the Arnold Sports Festival website in advance. Get an idea of what you want to see, where it’s being held and if there’s a cost for admission.

2.) To improve your athleticism: Not only can you find inspiration from the athletic competitions and events, but there will be plenty of fitness experts and athletes to draw wisdom from. The Arnold Expo will also require a good deal of your time, as it will offer tons of athletic equipment, clothing, books, supplements, foods and more to help out. Just remember that there are lot of vendors and you will most likely need plenty of time to get through them all.

arnold 23.) Because you miss Halloween: Honestly, I didn’t think this would appeal to me until I was there. You won’t believe how many vendors at the expo are giving away everything from energy drinks to high-protein chocolate pudding to more-than-eager festival attendees! That’s why you may want to get there early and look to the booths with the bigger lines. Also, if you see an attendee with a sample you want, ask where they got it. Some vendors run out of samples quickly, so don’t leave it to chance.

arnold4.) You’re fascinated by the fitness culture: Sure, after seeing all those hardcore weightlifters and super lean bodies, you may feel a little bit like Jane Goodall, but that’s okay! Go there and absorb the culture. Let yourself be amazed by all the muscles popping out of muscles (how can they possibly sit anywhere comfortably?) and try talking to people about their daily routines and diets. Who knows? You may find it alluring enough to join a gym by the end of the day.

arnold 35.) You want to live the dream: If posing with attractive muscle-toned models or athletes is your cup of protein shake, then consider it heaven. Not only will you find plenty of accommodating people to share a Kodak moment with you, but you’ll also have some envious friends when you post those photos on Facebook.

The Arnold Sports Festival runs from February 27 - March 2. Many event are at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Some events do take place at other locations, like the Ohio Expo Center and even as far afield as Delaware, so look to the festival website for information on locations, parking and transportation.