Remembering On The Waterfront: ten years later

OTW was once Illinois' largest music festival, taking place every Labor Day from 1983-2012
OTW was once Illinois' largest music festival, taking place every Labor Day from 1983-2012(wifr)
Published: Sep. 4, 2022 at 8:59 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - For long time Rockfordians, this may surprise you. But it’s now been a decade since On the Waterfront filled the downtown streets every Labor Day weekend.

In it’s heyday, On the Waterfront was Illinois’s largest music festival with more than 100 performers in seven music venues covering 30 Rockford city blocks. But what started in 1983 on a $15,000 budget as a 150-year birthday celebration for Rockford, ended 29 years later in 2012 when they city decided it could no longer financially support On the Waterfront. And on the decade anniversary of the last OTW, the Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI) decided to put together, “Ten years after: an On the Waterfront reunion” Sunday night at Tebala Shrine Center. Four local bands: The Missing Links, Three Good Men, Dirty Fishnet Stockings and Band of the Lost are performing. There is also On the Waterfront, Stars and Guitars, and Groove Walk memorabilia available in a silent auction with proceeds going to RAMI scholarships for local musicians.

“There’s such a group of wonderful people who put on waterfront and were with it for 29 years, or close to it,” said former OTW committee member Carol Wright. “And we’re like family. So there’s going to be a lot of hugs, a lot of stories and I’m sure a few tears and a lot of laughs. So it’s going to be a really fun night.”