Two music festivals downtown. Estimated 80,000 fans. A big reason for optimism

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It’s as if two years of pent-up music-loving frustration were unleashed on London this weekend.

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Organizers say two city music festivals drew about 80,000 people to two downtown parks for Sunday performances — this follows about 100,000 visitors to last weekend’s Sunfest: the Home County Music and Art Festival took over Victoria Park, while the former Rock Der Park, now known as Start.ca Rocks the Park, filled Harris Park.

“It was amazing. It was great to see,” said Brad Jones of Jones Entertainment Group, which runs the five-night Harris Park concert series. “It’s been two years since we had this much fun and there’s nothing like music to bring people together.”

Since the event began on July 14, nearly 40,000 people have packed the Forks of the Thames waterfront for five nights of entertainment with music ranging from pop, rock and soul to country – opening with Alanis Morissette on Wednesday and closing until Sunday with Dierks Bentley.

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“People listened to music, drank a beer, ate something and danced. We couldn’t be happier,” Jones said.

In 2021, London has been named Canada’s first UNESCO City of Music and the past two weekends are a clear indication of why.

London singer/songwriter fiker opens Home County Folk and Art Festival 2022 at Victoria Park in London on Friday 15th July 2022.  Mike Hensen/The London Free Press
London singer/songwriter fiker opens Home County Folk and Art Festival 2022 at Victoria Park in London on Friday 15th July 2022. Mike Hensen/The London Free Press

“It’s great. It’s nice to be outside and enjoy the live music, time with friends and the nice weather,” said Erin Hamilton, a Western University student who attended the third and final day of Home County Sunday in May Victoria Park was, “We loved the vendors, the indie folk vibe. It’s great to see the artists.”

In Home County, manager Darin Addison believes about 40,000 people attended the three-day event, down from more than 50,000 before the pandemic, he said. “We believe this is the beginning of a return for us.”

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Many vendors were still doing steady business over the weekend in Home County and really appreciated being able to get out and meet customers for the first time in two years.

“It’s been good for us. We were able to connect and network to promote our products,” said Melissa Ozaruk of Earth and Honeybee, an Ilderton apiary.

With Home County and Start.ca Rocks the Park sharing the weekend, the biggest challenge was finding enough staff, volunteers, food vendors and even technicians to run the equipment, Addison said. “We even had trouble getting enough porta potties,” he said, laughing.

ndebono@postmedia.com

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