Wrestling fans from across the country and even just from around the state are descending upon Des Moines this weekend for the NCAA Wrestling Championships.
"I wasn't anxious two come to Des Moines. Des Moines is a lot nicer than I though it was. I was not looking forward to this," said Penn State fan Bob Noll. He and his wife Mary are now glad they gave the metro a go and didn't mess up a 30-year wrestling tradition.
"Starting in Oklahoma City, I think it was in 1983, I haven't missed one since," Bob said about the championships.
City and county organizers pulled out all the stops. A massive Fan Festival area at Hy-Vee Hall is free. People can buy wrestling gear, practice their moves, grab a bite and watch the matches next door live on big screens.
Down the road, part of Court Avenue is closed for a three-day street party with live music, beer, food, heated tents, and lots of friendly fans.
"This is probably the biggest stage for Des Moines to prove we can handle something like this and so far everything seems very encouraging," said organizer and the general manager of Court Avenue Brewing Company Carl Wertzberger. "We know if we do this right, it's a great opportunity for them to come back here."
Out-of-staters and Iowans alike are liking what they see.
"I think that's the surprising part, is the downtown area, how well they actually have handled this," said Shane Jarboe of Dallas Center.
"I think Des Moines is really accommodating for the wrestling atmosphere," Brittney Fischer, a student at the University of Minnesota said. "Iowa being such a big wrestling state, they anticipated the crowd."
The one negative comment was that Wells Fargo Arena is smaller than other arenas that have hosted the championships and that leaves a lot of fans out of the tradition.