"IT'S part of the town's psyche" was the resounding reason why Port Fairy leaders said this folk festival weekend would still be one to remember.
Volunteers would usually be setting up ahead of this weekend but instead a smaller crew was preparing for the mini series of concerts following a year of coronavirus restrictions.
"All of our volunteers who live in around the district look forward to that," festival president John Young said.
"But we are quite excited about the weekend concert series."
Port Fairy's Jordan Lockett, who will perform with the Southern Ocean Sea Band and join in shanty singing at the wharf, says the festival still feels like it's on.
"It's going to be like the 1982 folk festival," the Moyne Shire councillor said. "It's opportunity to see it in a different form."
The festival won't provide its usual grants program, usually generating $100,000 for community groups.
Fellow councillor Karen Foster, also a Port Fairy resident, said the loss of the funding injection could hurt some volunteer groups.
"Some community groups are already doing it tough because of COVID, not being able to work because of the folk festival is going to be felt. Let's hope it is just a one off and we can get back to the full festival program next year," Cr Foster said.
Accommodation providers have reported they are still booked out despite the festival not going ahead in the same format.
Councillor Damian Gleeson said the bookings showed the festival had a rusted on following drawn to visit "year after year".
"The town has embraced the non-folkie element and the town's entertainment," he said.
"I remember when they used to have a semi-trailer on the footy oval, and bands like The Bushwackers used to teach us to the heel and toe.
"It is an opportunity to bring it back to that town feel."
Mr Young said this year would also be an opportunity to rethink the village program ahead of 2022.
"We want to rejuvenate it. We want to see buskers in the streets rather than only stalls. We will be working with the hotels during the year to bring forward a village program," he said.
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