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London fiddler Shane Cook ready for Home County homecoming

His fingers fly as he practises his playing style, ready for a special moment in his career.

Shane Cook, talented fiddler, professional musician and Londoner, is among the attractions at the 40th Home County Music and Art Festival, and there could be 150,000 people there to see him.

Organizers are planning for a record year and, although they acknowledge it’s tough to estimate the numbers who pack into Victoria Park, they think as many as 130,000 joined last year’s celebration of folk music and other art.

Cook, who’s 31 and will be appearing for the sixth time at the festival, is buzzing for Home County, despite a long career packed with awards.

He is a three-time Canadian Open National Fiddle Champion, a three-time Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Champion and a Grand North American Fiddle Champion, and, when he was 17, became the only Canadian to have won the US Grand Fiddle Championship.

But playing in London is special, said Cook.

“It’s always a thrill because you look out and see so many friends and family,” he said. “There’s always such a great vibe at Home County, too.

“It’s really amazing that they are able to put on such a fantastic event year after year and then to think that they are able to make it free.”

He added: “I love that this festival exposes traditional/roots music of great artistic validity to a so many people that might not otherwise be exposed.

“Best of all, so much of this music is accessible to all ages. To me this is one of the highlights of the year here in London. I'm really thankful for this festival."

Cook, who grew up in Dorchester, has a music degree from Western University and has a new recording due to be released in the fall, performs at Home County on Sunday at noon, on the North Stage. He is also involved in workshops on the South Stage at 1:30 p.m. and the Centre Stage at 4:30 p.m.

He grew up listening to Canadian old-time fiddling, but has since become interested in music from places like Ireland, Scotland, Quebec and the United States. He says he is “most at home” with Ontario’s “danceable music.”

“I come from a family of fiddlers. It’s something I watched my dad do and just followed in his steps.”

At a glance

Home County runs Friday to Sunday in Victoira Park.

— The festival includes performances by Great Lake Swimmers, Paul Langille, the Rizdales, the Sadies, Tannis Slimmon, Rick Taylor, and many others.

— There will be more than 120 Canadian craft artisans, more than 30 food vendors, music workshops, craft demonstrations, a community open stage and an interactive family area.

— Admission is by donation.

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