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Photo: The 2017 WIN Magazine Memorabilia Show and NCAA Fan Festival in St. Louis drew over 24,000 fans over three days.
NCAA wrestling fans, attending the 2019 Division I Wrestling Championships in PPG Paints Arena March 21-23, will have another great opportunity to celebrate the sport at the free NCAA Fan Festival at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center northwest of the arena. The Fan Fest, held between sessions of the national tournament, is a great place to experience the energy and excitement of the Championships, even for fans who don’t have a ticket.
The event is open from 3-7 p.m. on Thursday, 2:00-7:30 on Friday, and 1:00-6:30 Saturday. USA Wrestling will have their World Team practices at the beginning of each session of Fan Fest so fans will see some of the biggest names in the sport go through a work-out.
There will also be numerous autograph sessions featuring past Olympic/World champions, NCAA champions and legendary former coaches. This year’s featured line-up includes:
Fans will also enjoy a Wrestling and Football Presentation, a Pennsylvania Wrestling Greats Presentation, interactive wrestling exhibits, the WIN Magazine Memorabilia Show with numerous exhibitors, an NCAA Semifinal Preview Show, replays of the morning sessions, a Wyoming Seminary women’s dual, a Taste of Pittsburgh food area, a craft beer lounge and much, much more.
For more information on 18thannual NCAA Wrestling Fan Festival, visit www.ncaa.com/championships/wrestling/d1/fan-fest.
Looking Back at the First WIN Show
By Mike Chapman, Special to W.I.N.
(The following appeared in the March 14, 2019 issue of WIN Magazine.)
It’s hard to believe this year will mark the 29th year of the WIN Memorabilia Show. How long ago was that? George H.W. Bush was President of the United States, Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas and Tom Brady was in junior high.
Dan Gable was the head coach at Iowa and his Hawkeyes powered their way to the 1991 NCAA team title. The tournament was held at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which was only eight years old at the time.
The idea for the memorabilia show was born after I returned from the 1990 tournament at the University of Maryland. A bunch of my friends and I were looking for a place to meet between sessions of the tournament and there were no good options. Every bar or restaurant we could find was packed and many still allowed smoking. It was not a suitable atmosphere to hang out with friends and talk freely, and to bring young children along.
So prior to the next tournament, I began to plan on finding a suitable venue for us to meet. The idea began to grow to the point where I decided to go all out. We rented a banquet room in the Downtown Holiday Inn in Iowa City. In order to help pay the cost of renting the facility, I reached out to some sponsors and told them it would be a grand opportunity to exhibit their products.
It took some strong urging (selling) on my part and so to make the event more attractive I decided to bring in some celebrities. I contacted two legendary amateur stars who had gone on to tremendous success in professional wresting: Verne Gagne and Dan Hodge.
So, the first memorabilia show (not yet called the WIN Memorabilia Show) happened in 1991 in Iowa City. I brought a lot of items to display … like the derby hat and wrestling shoes worn by the great Frank Gotch and various books, posters, press guides and paraphernalia to give folks something to look at while they “hung out”.
We had four exhibitors and about 500 fans showed up. We received so many compliments that we resolved to do it again the next year when the tournament moved to Oklahoma. And it just continued to grow in support, from both exhibitors and fans.
Two years later, my wife Bev and I started WIN (then called the Wrestling Institute Newsmagazine). We then called it the WIN Memorabilia Show and we began promoting the event in the magazine.
In 1998, Bev and I sold WIN to Bryan Van Kley. He started coordinating the WIN Show and took the event to a new level. He lined up more exhibitors and brought in a wide variety of guests. He eventually talked to the NCAA about combining the WIN Show with their existing Fan Fest, and in 2011 the two joined forces to fashion a tremendously successful event.
Through the years, the WIN Magazine Memorabilia Show has attracted huge crowds over the three days of the NCAA tournament. In St. Louis in 2017, just over 24,000 fans attended Fan Fest.
The guests have included some of the biggest names in the sport — Dan Gable, Jordan Burroughs, Kyle Dake, David Taylor, Adeline Gray, Bruce Baumgartner, Wayne Baughman, Lee Kemp, John and Ben Peterson, Stephen Neal and many more. On several occasions actor Billy Baldwin and even NFL Hall of Famers have been seen walking through the show.
It has grown to the point that fans tell me they look forward to the show as much as the wrestling itself because it’s such a great place to re-connect with old friends and to share fond memories.
It’s also a wonderful place to bring youngsters to meet the legends of the sport and to have an opportunity to learn about the sport’s fabulous history. Bev and I are very proud that the WIN Magazine Memorabilia Show has become a very important part of the entire NCAA Wrestling Championships’ total experience.