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The music that’s echoed through Victoria Park for close to five decades is back.
But it wasn’t quite the kick-off organizers planned for the 47th edition of the Home County Music and Art Festival, at Victoria Park through Sunday with performing dozens of local and national artists.
The festival began with an opening ceremony, an Indigenous land acknowledgment, welcoming words from city politicians including acting mayor Josh Morgan, the of O Canada and London singer-songwriter fiker, whose gorgeous vocals drew cheers and applause from an appreciative audience of several hundred .
But there were a few anxious moments during her set when a man climbed atop the bandshell roof and stood looking over the crowd.
The performance was halted, police, fire and ambulance were called and a bearded young man was arrested and taken away.
“Well, it’s a first for Home County,” said manager Darin Addison.
After a musical interlude featuring Sarina Haggarty, London’s Chad Pricewho recently won CBC’s nationwide Toyota Searchlight talent hunt, took the stage with his band for a set that also drew cheers from a crowd of more than 1,000.
This year’s Home County headliners include Quebec folk innovators Mélisande Friday and Sarnia native Emm Gryner Saturday. Juno-winning folk star William Prince closes the festival Sunday.
The festival has long jettisoned its sole focus on folk, even changing its name to Home County Music and Art Festival, and welcoming other genres from pop to rock (Gryner), soul and R&B, which let Price perform with full band on the main stage for the first time.
“Folk music has really evolved and so has the festival,” Addison said. “There’s certainly some high-energy music (Mélisande and Gryner). . . . But Home County, for a lot of people, still has that laid-back vibe compared to the other festivals in the city,” like Sunfest and Rock the Park.
Plenty of traditional folk is being offered on the festival’s five stages, including performers who’ve been part of the festival since it began, like Paul Mills. He’ll perform with Joanne Does, Doug Long and Dan Rutledge on the East Stage in a show dubbed The London Folk Revival at 3 pm Saturday, then with David Bradstreet on the North Concert Stage at 3 pm Sunday.
Among the local musical acts performing on the various stages are Aaron Allen, Katherine Fischer, Marty Kolls, Ken Yates, Justin Maki, Sarina Haggarty and Saidat.
Visit homecounty.ca for more about the artists and schedules.
Another festival highlight is its collection of about 100 arts and crafts vendors, whose tents are filled with hand-made and crafted goods from jewelry and specialty foods to clothing, fine art, pottery and even furniture.
“They’re all approved by a jury so, if you’re buying, you’re likely buying from the person who made it,” Addison said, adding the three-day festival usually draws about 50,000 visitors.
What: Home County Music and Art Festival
When: Friday, from 5:45 pm, Saturday and Sunday, from noon
Where: Victoria Park
Tickets: The festival is free, but donations are welcome.