The 41st annual Port Fairy Folk Festival was held during the long weekend in March this year and although there still a few tickets available during the weeks before the event, the festival still managed a near capacity attendance. The three day festival is held within a fenced off area at Port Fairy’s Southcombe park and admission is restricted to ticket holders only. Over the years the festival has spawned a secondary event around the streets of Port Fairy and attracts large numbers of day visitors along with the inevitable craft markets and food vans selling everything from Kangaroo Burgers to Asian stir fries.
Originally the festival was predominately centred around Irish ( celtic) music however over the years the music base has broadened and now incorporates a more diverse range of music.
The “Railway Stage” situated opposite the Royal Oak Hotel is the main “Free” entertainment stage for those without tickets and although you don’t see the top acts outside the main festival, the standard of entertainment is good enough to warrant a visit to Port Fairy.
There are a number of other smaller stages around the town plus numerous buskers, food stalls and all variety of arts, crafts and clothing that is part of music festivals these days.
Next years Folk festival will be held over the March Labour day weekend 10 - 12 March.
The Port Fairy was first held in 1977 and was run by members of the Geelong Folk Music Club who had chosen Port Fairy as an ideal location to run a small folk music festival as it it offered very good venues and amenities and had a very traditional and historic atmosphere. Since then the PFFF has grown into one of the Australia’s major music festivals and each Labour day weekend in March the street of the small township of Port Fairy ring to the sounds of folk music. Over the years the festival has evolved into two festivals, the main Folk Festival is held inside a fenced off enclosure at Southcombe Park and this is reserved for ticket holders only, and the other festival is a street fair held on the streets of Port Fairy. The main festival is restricted to about 10,000 tickets which are valid for the three days of the festival and are not transferrable, you cannot buy a single day ticket for the festival or share days with another person.
Port Fairy doesn’t have any special connection with folk music, the original festival was run by members of the Geelong Folk Music Club and they decided to hold it in the small seaside village of Port Fairy because, ( co-founder of the festival) Jamie McKew’s grandmother lived
just near Port Fairy at Rosebrook.
Apart from the labour day weekend in March, if you go to Port Fairy at any other time of year, you won’t see or hear folk music being played in the street or pubs.
Port Fairy does not have a group of local folk musicians or are there any current or ex Port Fairy residents who are well known exponents of the folk music genre.
The Folk Festival doesn’t attract 30,000 ticket holders, they sell 10,000 tickets ( recently it is up to 11,000) and they attend for three days. In other words they count the same person three times. .