COMMUNITY support has upheld Camperdown's tradition of paying tribute to its early Scottish setters through a now entirely volunteer-managed festival.
The town was awash with bagpipes, highland dancing, whisky tasting and shortbread at the weekend's Robert Burns Festival.
The festival, previously managed by Corangamite Shire Council and usually hosted in May, was moved to July this year by a volunteer committee.
Festival co-ordinator Catherine O'Flynn said community members had continued to keep the festival alive and show off the town's Scottish history under a now "compacted" festival.
"We have reduced to the court house and theatre to make it in the town precinct," Ms O'Flynn said.
The festival was originally conceived as a fundraiser in 2012 to restore the town's highly valued Robert Burns statue, based on the oldest known portrait of Burns, after it was vandalised.
This year's festival was headlined by Scottish singer-songwriter Eric Bogle, a fan of Burns' poetry, who returned to perform for a third year.
"There is no other Robert Burns festival in Australia. That makes it unique, in fact probably within the world," Mr Bogle said.
"Even without the festival Camperdown is very much aware of its Scottish heritage. You can tell by the names of the families and the names of the streets.
"It's always had this pride in the Scottish background and the Burns festival is just an expression of that really."
A dozen young highland dancers also attended the festival for a competition on Saturday.
Warrnambool Highland Dancers co-ordinator Dulcie Hirst said the group was trying to keep the traditional Scottish dance alive in the south-west, with the festival once boasting up to 30 dancers.
First year of 'self-sustaining' festival
Camperdown's Maniford Inn owner Marian Hatfield said her accommodation was fully booked for the festival four years ago, but she had seen numbers "fizz out" in the past two years.
"We are probably on par with last year. I think they started promoting a bit late, because the council don't do it anymore," Ms Hatield said. "Hopefully that will improve next year."
Ms O'Flynn said she believed the festival was well attended, with a Gala dinner and Eric Bogle's Saturday night performance sold out.
"All indications are people telling me the standard is fantastic," she said.
But Ms O'Flynn said the council gave the festival $5000 to operate, down from about $8000 in 2016, while also providing in-kind support, meaning the festival was this year supported mostly by philanthropic donations.
"In previous years council employees co-ordinated the management of the festival. But we haven't got the staff to do what was done," she said.
"People are appreciating that is a community festival and we are picking up new patrons locally and interstate."
Corangamite Shire mayor Neil Trotter said the council had resolved to make funding throughout the shire more "equitable" and as a result had decided some community events "needed to stand alone to a certain extent".
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.