ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Sadly Rockford’s largest music festival won’t be going on this Labor Day for the first time in nearly three decades. As upset as that news makes many of us in the Stateline perhaps not as much as a Rockford couple. The music festival has an even more special meaning, one that’s changed their lives forever. These two volunteers found eternal love On The Waterfront.
For Mike and Angela Link, Labor Day usually means long hours and hard work. The two have long volunteered at On the Waterfront; Angela part of the marketing team and Mike the festival’s atmosphere manager. They both say they’re sad to see the festival go away.
“I was pretty devastated,” said Angela. “It was still shocking and kind of upsetting because of the hours over the years and the people you’ve met that you’re probably not going to see again.”
“It’s sad,” said Mike. “We were sitting on the porch last night which would have been the opening kickoff concert Thursday [like it] has been for 29 years.”
The two met while working the festival in 2005. They started dating shortly thereafter. Today they’re a happily married couple and they say the festival helped make them fall in love.
“He’d come to the great lawn at night and we’d watch the show,” said Angela.
“We were both doing the same thing,” said Mike, “working the same festival. I’d come by the merchandise tent [and] she’d be pulling her hair out looking like she was going to throw up. I gave her a beer and said here you need to drink this.”
Mike and Angela spent the evening at Kryptonite Bar on State Street in downtown. They were attending “Waterfront Wake 2013”. It was a celebration of the life and death of the popular music festival. They say the night was bittersweet because they get a chance to spend time with old friends they’ve spent many years volunteering with, but not at the festival like they always used to do.
“You meet a lot of wonderful people that stay with you the rest of your life,” said Mike.
“I don’t think there could be anything else like On the Waterfront,” said Angela. “It was a huge group effort.”
Mike and Angela have volunteered at other festivals in the Stateline and plan to keep doing so this fall.