ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Thousands of people are expected to attend this year's On the Waterfront festival. The annual celebration, which is considered as one of the largest music festivals in the state, kicks off tonight.
Before the gates even open, thousands of dedicated volunteers will make their way into “On the Waterfront” cleaning, tying, and perfecting the Stateline’s largest music festival.
Chad Michaelis drove 700 miles to give his time to the event. He is in charge of setting up the front gates, which is the first thing people see when they pull into downtown. "I have been doing this for 15 years and it is a part of me.”
“At the end of setting up we sit down and say. We did this,” Michaelis said.
He and 4,000 other volunteers are putting On the Waterfront together, some working 16 hours to turn the 26 blocks into a celebration. Michaelis says the feeling of accomplishment is “a head rush. You get a big smile on your face.”
Organizer Nina Jacobson has spent the last year determining where every tent, stage, and food venue will set up. "You have your things that you are doing and all of a sudden these people are in one place setting up fences and tents and loading and it's really cool how everyone comes together," Jacobson said.
It is a summer tradition that brings thousands of volunteers and residents together.
Tonight's headlining act is country music star Billy Currington. He'll perform on the great lawn stage around 8:45 tonight. Tickets for the festival are $15 at the gate.