The old saying 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' may just have been penned for the relationship between the Port Fairy community and its storied folk festival.
After having to be cancelled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Folkie is back for 2022.
While that translates to a return to business as usual for the tourist hotspot, the festival is no longer something that would be taken for granted.
Through her work as a tireless volunteer for many community organisations, including the town's football and netball club, surf life saving club, community bank and the Consolidated primary school, Nicole Dwyer knows only too well the positive impact the festival has on Port Fairy.
"It was sad to miss last year but perhaps pushing the pause button has made everyone stop and realise just how important the folk festival is to our town," Ms Dwyer said.
"It is such an important fundraiser for community groups and it not happening last year left a dint in bank accounts. It's impact is just so far reaching for sporting clubs, schools, whether it be fundraising by being part of the festival or applying for folk festival community grants.
"It works so well, the committee do an amazing job and the town gets behind it and helps bring it together. It works both ways - the community has a hand in making sure the festival runs smoothly and gets its rewards from doing that."
It is such an important fundraiser for community groups and it not happening last year left a dint in bank accounts.- Nicole Dwyer
Ms Dwyer said Port Fairy's location and its unique character played a role in making the festival a success.
She said the town's welcoming environment and peaceful nature were amazing assets to have.
"When people come to the festival they can be in one of the big tents listening to booming music and then, a short walk away, they could be on Griffiths Island. The town has so much charm and a country feel to it."
Margaret Whitehead has been part of the Port Fairy Folk Festival for longer than she remembers.
She was on board when the running of the festival was taken on by the Port Fairy community in the early 1990s.
Prior to this time, the event was ran by the Geelong Folk Club, which had handpicked Port Fairy to host the festival when it was first held in 1977.
Club member and festival founder Jamie McKew remembered Port Fairy fondly from holidaying in the town as a child and knew it would be the perfect fit for his club's new venture.
Geelong remained a part of the festival, with office staff in the city, until recent times, when all operations of the festival were moved to Port Fairy.
Mrs Whitehead said the festival had always relied on the passion of its volunteers.
"It's a bit harder now to get volunteers but when I look at our construction crew setting up this week they are still 100 per cent committed," Mrs Whitehead said.
"COVID has had an impact, we have lost some volunteers who are a bit hesitant, which is understandable.
"But we have had new ones come on board so that is pleasing and positive for the future.
"The Port Fairy Soccer Club is one group that has come on board. I think that does show that when you live in Port Fairy you do understand how important volunteering for your community is."
The community's commitment to the festival has become an intangible that has helped this small, seaside village create one of Australia's best festivals.
Port Fairy Folk Festival president John Young said the passion for the event went beyond just its patrons.
He cited one of the festival's highest profile acts for 2022 as a case in point.
"Jamie McKew was able to get John Butler to the festival 10 or 12 years ago," Mr Young said.
"Since then he has returned a number of times and has openly stated that the positive connection he has to the festival plays a big role in his return visits.
"That's a real feather in the cap of the festival and the wider community, to have a performer who plays shows across the world holding Port Fairy in such regard."
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