There is a new driver at the helm of one of Australia’s most popular folk music festivals.

The Port Fairy Folk Festival has unveiled Justin Rudge as its new program director, replacing Caroline Moore who resigned in March in the wake of this year’s festival.

Justin Rudge is just the third director of the Port Fairy Folk Festival.(Supplied: Port Fairy Folk Festival)

Mr Rudge cut his teeth in Melbourne, booking artists for venues like The Standard Hotel in Fitzroy before expanding into artist booking and management both in Australia and overseas.

The festival celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2021, and Mr Rudge said it was an honour to be involved.

“I’m really excited at what the future of the Port Fairy Folk Festival might look like, it’s a massive honour to be the third programmer in its 44-year history,” Mr Rudge said.

“The audience refers to it as ‘our festival’ and i love that. I love the fact that the punters and the community feel they own the festival and I certainly don’t intend on taking that away.”

Festival president John Young said Mr Rudge’s experience working in the live music industry provided an excellent platform for the festival as it moved into a new event format following the impact of COVID-19.

“We were very impressed with Justin’s background and solid experience in working with live music and festivals,” Mr Young said.

A live band performs in a festival tent to a crowd of dancing children.The Teeny Tiny Stevies performing in front some of their teeny tiny fans at the 2020 Port Fairy Folk Festival.(ABC South West Victoria: Matt Neal)

“Justin brings with him a wealth of experience, inspiration and ideas with community and folk music at the core.”

Mr Rudge would not be drawn on the artists earmarked for next year’s line-up, as the industry continues to work through the realities and restrictions attached to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Port Fairy has such a wide berth of genres within the programming, I certainly intend to keep that,” he said.

“Who knows what the 2021 festival will look like with regards to international performers. I think we’re all probably aware it’s going to look different, some of that will be me — some of that will be things I can’t control.

“While live music events worldwide face enormous challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 global crisis, I am excited to start planning next year’s festival and am confident we can face these challenges and provide the Port Fairy and folk communities with an unforgettable experience in 2021.”

The 2021 Port Fairy Folk Festival line-up is expected to be announced in October.