The 2019 Koroit Irish Festival is set to lift the event, and the rural township it is based in, onto the national and international stage.
While Koroit sits at the foot of Tower Hill and is situated halfway between tourism hotspots Port Fairy and Warrnabool, the town has traditionally not been a tourist destination.
The Koroit Irish Festival is helping to change that, with the festival attracting around 4000 people last year, many of those from outside the region.
The success of the event has also captured the attention of the ABC, which will be sending a film crew from its hit national TV series, Back Roads to the 2019 Koroit Irish Festival and using it as the centrepiece for an upcoming episode on the town.
Festival goes "international"
While this will provide national exposure, the festival has also dipped its toe in international waters, with this year's festival featuring a live cross to Ireland.
On Friday, April 26, a live cross will take place from a packed Koroit Theatre at the opening night of the festival, to The Cobblestone Pub in Dublin.
Conversation and music will be shared between the Irish capital and Koroit, with the original big screen in the town's theatre to broadcast the cross.
For those of us that live in Koroit and for people who have ties with the town or have visited it, we all know what a great little place it is. The festival is an important vehicle to showcase what the town and its people are all about.Koroit Irish Festival president Chris Evans
Koroit Irish Festival president Chris Evans said the wide focus on the festival was a big win for the town.
"For those of us that live in Koroit and for people who have ties with the town or have visited it, we all know what a great little place it is," Mr Evans said.
"It is fantastic. The festival is an important vehicle to further showcase what the town and its people are all about.
"The live cross to Dublin is allowing us to take Koroit to Ireland and bring Ireland to Koroit.
"It will be such a thrill for a lot of people at the festival, some who may never have been to Ireland and may not get there.
"This will be the next best thing, we are really excited about the concept and builds even more on that link to Ireland that has always been there.
"Having Back Roads come to Koroit is huge.
"We have always known it is a special place but now the whole country will get the chance to see that.
"It will highlight the everyday people of Koroit and the extraordinary contribution they have made to our way of life.
"The festival is about celebrating our heritage and it's also about having fun.
"Our committee is made up of community volunteers who put a lot of work in.
"The reason we put that time in is because where we live means so much to us, it's our chance to shine and invite the world to come and join us."
Strong line-up of performers
The festival, which runs from April 26 to 28, has gathered an impressive array of performers.
- the world champion Christine Ayres School of Irish Dancing
- Australian Celtic Artist of the Year String Loaded Celtic Fiddle Band
- South Australian Celtic music favourites The Borderers
- the newly formed local Celtic trio of Kate Gane, Jo Brooks and Maree Daffy.
The festival also hosts the Australian Danny Boy Championships, an event that attracts a high quality field from across the country to find the best performance of the titular song, with the winner receiving a national title and $1000.
Emerging talent and choir competitions are also part of the festival, while the Moyne Youth Council runs a youth stage, and local and visiting talent is given time to shine through a structured buskers program.
Koroit has a packed calendar
For a town with a population of 1800, Koroit punches above its weight when it comes to events.
The Irish festival is joined on the calendar by:
- Koroit Truck Show,
- Koroit Lake School (January),
- Koroit Sheepdog Trials (February)
- Koroit Lions Club Swap Meet Show n' Shine (March)
- Koroit and District Primary School Easter Fair (March/April)
- Koroit Lions Club Art Show (June)
- Koroit Agricultural Show (November)
- Tower Hill Challenge
- Carols by the Railway Station (December).
It takes a community
The Koroit Irish Festival committee partners with the Koroit Lions Club to deliver the Carols by the Railway event.
Mr Evans said community groups working together in this way was a model embraced by the festival.
"Most clubs and organisations in Koroit are involved in the Irish festival in some way," he said.
"Our first-choice catering for the festival is our schools, they deliver great eating options for our festival patrons and that hard work is rewarded in raising a lot of funds for their schools.
"The Koroit and District Kindergarten runs our Kids Area, which is such an important part of the festival given how many young families come along.
"It is a great partnership with the kinder, it raises funding for them and it provides us with such a wonderful showpiece part of the festival.
"The support of the Lions club is exceptional. We are so lucky to have a group like them in the town who are so generous with their time and efforts.
"Small communities that band together and help each other out are the ones that are successful and tight-knit and we think Koroit fits in those categories."