Archdeacon: Miami Valley Sports Festival — ‘The possibilities are endless’

There was a popular buddy movie back in the late 1980s called “Twins” that paired the muscle-bound Arnold Schwarzenegger with the elfin Danny DeVito as twin brothers who had been separated at birth and then reunited decades later.

This weekend we have the Miami Valley Sports Festival which one of its organizers – Will Ashcraft, the co-owner of M-Power Gym in Vandalia – described as “a miniature Arnold.”

He was referring to the Arnold Sports Festival, the massive, hugely popular multi-sports fest that was named for Schwarzenneger 30 years ago when it began in Columbus.

But that doesn’t mean DeVito should be the face of the Miami Valley Sports Festival, which runs Friday evening through Sunday at the new Montgomery County Fairgrounds on Infirmary Road.

Its poster boy should be a little bigger: Think along the lines of Duke Beefhammer, Trash Bradley and The Beast, some of the marque men of the P.O.S.E.R. pro wrestling organization from Springfield which will put on a show Saturday night at 7.

Or, how about the bulky Doug Madewell, the nationally acclaimed strongman who will be part of Saturday’s daytime events?

And if you want the fest’s image to come with more of an impact, there are women like Peppermint Splatty and Honey Basher and some of the other colorful characters who are part of the Gem City Roller Derby which will roll and bump through an exhibition Saturday at 6 p.m. before the pro wrestling show.

There also are boxers – there’s a 13-bout amateur card Friday night at 7 – and there’s a 5K run Saturday morning, followed by karate, king fu and taekwondo competitions, arm wrestling and powerlifting. Sunday there’s a double-deadlift competition and a dozen Fuji Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu super fights.

The festival is the brainchild of Ashcraft and Mike Baker, who co-founded M-Power in 2017. They are promoting this weekend’s sports equivalent of a three-ring circus, in part, because it accentuates the concept of their massive gym.

When you walk through its various rooms you see many different athletic pursuits being worked on at once.

“Quite literally, if you go from one bay (room) to the next, you may go from CrossFit to power lifting to boxing,” Ashcraft said. “The next hour if you come back, it may be taekwondo, a fitness class and kids doing athletic training.

“I called it controlled chaos.”

Ashcraft said he and Baker toyed with the idea of a multisport fest soon after they opened their gym and after running small boxing shows and powerlifting competitions in the facility, they did an experimental event at the Action Sports Center. They only had powerlifting and martial arts, but Ashcraft said they got a great response.

“I call last year the experimental egg,” he laughed. “It’s like a home economics class in school where the teacher tells the class, ‘Don’t break the egg.’

“And when you’re done, if the egg is still whole, they say, ‘Alright, you did OK!’”

In moving to the Fairgrounds he said they had a bigger space to work with and drew interest from other gyms and organizations.

Friday night’s fight show features boxers from M-Power and the DMC Gym in Washington Township.

Ashcraft said the strong man competition will include members of the First Heavy Metal Church of Christ on Timber Lane pulling their bus.

There are several quirky additions like that in the competitions and Ashcraft thinks people will be entertained.

He talked about the Miami Valley’s love of sports and festivals: “There are a lot of sports fans who love things like The Big Hoopla and the First Four and this is something like that.”

Ashcraft believes this is an especially good time for a communal gathering:

“After a year of tornadoes, civil unrest with the KKK trying to come in and the terrible shooting in the Oregon District, I think we can offer something positive. Something the city can definitely use.

“I’m born and raised in Dayton, so it means a lot of to me. I think this event can be a real positive.”

The charity component of the festival will benefit the Pink Ribbon Girls organization which provides – all free – meals, housecleaning, rides to treatment and peer support for individuals with breast and gynecological cancers.

There will be 50 vendors at the festival, beer (a Heidelberg brewing truck) and food, including the Zombie Dogz food truck.

A super pass for all events across three days costs $30. Tickets for Friday night’s fights or the combined roller derby and wrestling shows Saturday evening cost $20. A day pass for Saturday is $10

Tickets can be obtained online at or at the door.

Ashcraft said he hopes this is the start of an event that continues to grow.

“Over the next few years, who knows what we can add,” he said with a smile. “Darts? Billiards? Rugby? The possibilities are endless and we’re up for all conversations.

“I don’t think there’s anything out there – whether it’s big or small – that we aren’t willing to try.

“This has become a true animal that’s only getting bigger.”

But that animal is not The Beast.

He’s in the ring Saturday night.

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