The Home County Festival begins with song, terror, cheers and applause

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The music that has echoed through Victoria Park for nearly five decades is back.

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But it wasn’t quite the kick-off organizers had planned for the 47th edition of the Home County Music and Art Festival, which featured dozens of local and national artists performing in Victoria Park through Sunday.

The festival began with an opening ceremony, an acknowledgment of Indigenous land, welcoming addresses from city leaders including Acting Mayor Josh Morgan, singing from O Canada and London singer-songwriter Fiker, whose beautiful singing drew cheers and applause from an appreciative audience of several hundred evoked people.

But there were a few anxious moments during their performance, when a man climbed onto the roof of the band shell and peered out over the crowd.

The performance was interrupted, the police, fire department and ambulance were called, and a bearded young man was arrested and taken away.

“Well, it’s a first for Home County,” manager Darin Addison said.

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After a musical interlude with Sarina Haggarty, London resident Chad Price, who recently won CBC’s Toyota Searchlight national talent search, took the stage with his band for a set that was also cheered on by more than 1,000 people.

This year’s Home County headliners include Quebec folk innovators Mélisande Friday and Sarnia native Emm Gryner Saturday. Juno-awarded folk star William Prince closes the festival Sunday.

The festival has long since moved on from its sole focus on folk, even changing its name to the Home County Music and Art Festival, and welcoming other genres from pop to rock (Gryner), soul and R&B, which Price performs with a full band on the main stage let for the first time.

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“Folk music has really evolved and so has the festival,” Addison said. “There is certainly energetic music (Mélisande and Gryner). . . . But Home County still has that laid-back vibe for a lot of people compared to the other festivals in town,” like Sunfest and Rock the Park.

The festival’s five stages feature plenty of traditional folk, including artists who have been with the festival since its inception, such as Paul Mills. He will perform with Joanne Does, Doug Long and Dan Rutledge on the East Stage in a show called The London Folk Revival on Saturday at 3pm and with David Bradstreet on Sunday at 3pm on the North Concert Stage.

Local musicians performing on the various stages include Aaron Allen, Katherine Fischer, Marty Kolls, Ken Yates, Justin Maki, Sarina Haggarty and Saidat.

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Visit to learn more about the artists and schedules.

Another highlight of the festival is the gathering of about 100 arts and crafts vendors, whose tents are filled with handcrafted and handcrafted goods, from jewelry and food specialties to clothing, fine art, pottery and even furniture.

“They are all approved by a jury. So if you’re buying, you’re probably buying from the person who made them,” Addison said, adding that the three-day festival usually draws about 50,000 visitors.

What: Home County Music and Arts Festival

When: Friday, from 5:45 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, from 12:00 p.m

Where: Victoria Park

Tickets: The festival is free, but donations are welcome.


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