The Port Fairy Folk Festival was established in 1977. Since that date it has grown to become one of the most regarded festivals both in Australia and on the international festival network. The festival has won numerous awards and has been inducted into the Australian National Tourism Hall of Fame.

Port Fairy Folk Festival is a not for profit association run by a dedicated committee of volunteers, who in 2016 were awarded the Victorian Premier’s Volunteer Award for excellence in Teamwork. The Port Fairy Folk Festival is committed to excellence in programming and community engagement. The key focus is for people to have an outstanding cultural and social experience which is born from music, but also embraces theatre, visual arts, spoken word, children’s programs, interactive workshops and street theatre.

Over the Victorian Labour Day weekend in March, the beautiful and historic coastal town of Port Fairy attracts thousands of visitors over the 4 days of the Festival, both for the ticketed arena and free street program. Each year over 100 acts from across the globe perform at the festival. Past artists include Sinead O’Connor, Eddi Reader, Archie Roach, Gurrumul, Richard Thompson, Madeline Peyroux, Eric Bogle, Judy Collins, John Butler, Colin Hay, Loudon Wainwright, Ron Sexsmith, Ralph Mc Tell, Lior, Richard Thompson, The Waifs, Ani DiFranco, Tim Finn and Paul Kelly, just to name a few.

The Committee

John Young: President
Shane Lenehan: Vice President: Ticketing
Suellen Sproles: Secretary
Richard Montgomery: Treasurer
Bob Handby AO: Manager – Health, Food Concessions
Bruce Leishman: Manager – Sponsorship, Licenses, Insurances
Donna Sheppard: Manager – Artist Accommodation
Gordon McLeod: Manager – Security
Jack Smits: Manager – Construction
Margaret Whitehead OAM:  Manager – Community Liaison
Ash Cryer: Manager – Merchandise & Marketing
Robyn Stewart – Manager – Friends of the Festival Volunteers

On Sunday 4 December 2016 The Governor of Victoria, The Hon Linda Dessau AM, presented the Port Fairy Folk Festival Committee with the Premier’s Volunteer Champion Award for Teamwork for Regional and Rural Victoria. The award was greeted with a rapturous applause at Government House. Representing the committee at the event were John Young, Vice President, Bernie Waixel, Treasurer, Gayle O’Keeffe, (outgoing) Secretary, Margaret Whitehead OAM, Bob Handby, Gordon McLeod and Shane Lenehan. Absent were Bruce Leishman, President, Ann Holmes and Jack Smits. The award was in recognition of the role the Committee and all of our volunteers play in producing such a wonderful event that means so much to the community, and leads the way in celebrating and profiling music and culture. The accolades were enormous, and we would truly like to thank every single person who has volunteered at Port Fairy Folk Festival during the past 40 years, this award is for you all.

Committee members at Government House, Melbourne. From left: Gayle O’Keeffe, Bernie Waixel, Margaret Whitehead OAM, Gordon McLeod, Bob Handby, Shane Lenehan, John Young.

Festival Ambassador


Derek Guille is a long time champion of the Port Fairy Folk Festival. He has hosted concerts at the festival for many years, and delighted crowds with his band The Ugly Uncles. During his time as a much loved broadcaster on 774 ABC Victoria he showcased our artists and celebrated the festival with his many listeners annually. The festival is privileged to have Derek as our Ambassador.