Accommodation costs hit sour note for Port Fairy Folk Festival fans

THE high cost of accommodation during the Port Fairy Folk Festival is an ongoing concern for patrons.

The popularity of the Folk Festival puts pressure on Port Fairy accommodation costs. Picture: ROBIN SHARROCK

The popularity of the Folk Festival puts pressure on Port Fairy accommodation costs. Picture: ROBIN SHARROCK

Annual surveys have found that people attending the four-day event believe they get value for money when it comes to ticket prices.

But the feedback also shows that accommodation costs are forcing some to reconsider whether they can afford to return to the festival in future.

It was the strongest recurring theme to arise from improved patron surveys which were introduced four years ago.

Folk festival committee members recently spent a day reviewing all aspects of the event’s past and future activities during an all-day planning meeting — the first meeting of such a scale since 2010.

President Bruce Leishman said committee succession planning was one weakness still to be addressed from four years ago, but occupational health and safety was the biggest ongoing issue to deal with.

“The demand on OH&S is massive and the regulations we have to deal with are incredible,” Mr Leishman said.

“It is an area we have new challenges in each year and one that has to be dealt with in a very thorough way.”

OH&S compliance is required to look after the needs of performers, contractors and the 900-strong community volunteer workforce that help bring the festival to life each year. It is that community workforce that was identified at the meeting as one of the great strengths of the festival.

An experienced, hands-on committee, a strong youth program and fringe festival and a world-class line-up of performers each year were also cited as among the Folkie’s strengths.

An increased online presence and the development of a risk management plan were noted improvements from four years ago.

The online presence has also helped streamline ticket sales, with the vast majority now purchased online.

The festival has also created an electronic newsletter to help keep its patrons informed of news and continues to develop its website and add to its email database. 

Mr Leishman said competition from other festivals was also something that needed to be monitored.

He said the folk festival was now benchmarking itself against similar events and organisers attended other festivals to see how they operated.

The next round of the  festival’s community grants program will be announced in coming weeks.

Mr Leishman said there would be some adjustments to the application process to provide more clarity for those wishing to apply for a grant.