We chat with Port Fairy Folk Festival program director Caroline Moore ahead of this weekend’s event

Port Fairy Folk Festival is back and boy, is it looking to be a great event.

To say that program director Caroline Moore is excited would be a gross understatement – Moore is positively elated. “[PFFF] has this incredible reputation and quality,” says Moore. “It’s my first year [as director] so it’s nerve wracking - you want to ensure the integrity, the vibe that’s been built up over the years, is maintained – I’m thrilled, excited and relieved.”
With the event completely sold out, all you lucky ticket holders should rejoice, you’re in for a treat. “All the artists, every single one of them are amazing – I always go on about headliners and in particular for Port Fairy it’s an extraordinary stretch of talent.
“[PFFF] represents the history of folk music, it really does, and then there’s beautiful discoveries like Dori Freeman and Don Walker. [There are] so many household names and so many that aren’t, that’s what is so exciting.”
That eclectic mix of household names and visiting international acts will undoubtedly offers more choice for music than attendees will be able to handle. Not only is the event the first for Moore to be organising, in many ways it’s a first for a lot of performers too. “I’m personally terribly excited about hosting Don Walker for the very first time and how the audience will respond to seeing him,” says Moore. “Karma County have reformed for the festival and I’m absolutely ecstatic. Nick Thomas is launching his book and CD, Melody Pool, Hollie Smith – the list goes on.”
Indeed, Moore’s list does go on as she sings high praises for the stellar lineup of international acts Port Fairy will host this year. “Mexrrissey, they’re the Mexican take on Morrissey. Roo Pans will, I think, be the hit of the festival, or one of many, I think he will absolutely blow everyone’s mind away with his beautiful voice that will capture what the festival is about. Bazzookas are from The Netherlands, it’s their first [Australian appearance].
“It really is a lot of firsts and it’s been terrific [that] we can facilitate bringing them out and they’re able to tour Australia after that. I’m truly excited for all of them. I can put my hand on my heart and say I genuinely love them and think they’ll go across really well.”
A benchmark in the Victorian music calendar, Port Fairy Folk Festival is incredibly community orientated, giving back to the people and town who have hosted the event for so many years. “What people should know is that it’s predominantly produced by volunteers and that’s unique. It’s not a private enterprise – any money made is donated back to the community.
“Last year $750,000 was given to build a cancer wing at the Port Fairy Regional Hospital. Over the years the festival has invested millions in to the community. It’s got a special something and I’ve never come across an organisation like this. For me that’s one of the secrets to the success, [it’s] the programming and the heart and soul of what the festival is about.”
Going strong since 1977, Moore says that the success and popularity of Port Fairy Folk Festival truly is down to the collaborative efforts and support of the community at large, and she like so many of the guests to Port Fairy, find a beauty in that spirit unlike any other festival in the country. “The secret to the success is the people who are involved, that broader community, the producers, the townships, the musos, the environment – the audience and artist are as one.
“The whole environment has built up over the years and it’s the quintessential something special about the township and the artists. It’s one of very few intergenerational festivals, a family all going to one event and loving it and having something genuine for them. There’s this beautiful community and respect is what underlies things there – those tangible things that you can’t buy are the secret to the success of this festival.
By Anna Rose

Port Fairy Folk Festival will take place from Friday March 10 until Monday March 13.