LOWELL -- Kevin Dwyer saw Craig Gates on the job almost every day.
Working in the office next door from the Lowell Festival Foundation's executive director, Dwyer saw firsthand the passion that Gates brought to the Lowell Folk Fest.
"I saw how much he did for the event, and it's a lot," Dwyer said. "It inspired me to maintain that level of passion."
Now Dwyer, 27, has been selected to succeed Gates, who died at the end of last year. Dwyer is the new executive director with the Lowell Folk Fest approaching this summer.
Dwyer, who started in the position three weeks ago, will raise money and run the day-to-day operations for the festival.
He has been an avid supporter of the annual event since he first attended the festival in college.
"It's exciting to meet with all the people who make the festival happen, who really care about it," said Dwyer, of Lowell. "There's obviously a lot to do, but I'm very much up for the challenge."
A UMass Lowell graduate who studied sound recording technology, he was a special events assistant for the Lowell Summer Music Series for the last three years. Some of his responsibilities included overseeing production during concerts, executing the marketing plan, and acquiring sponsors.
"He's well aware of what we're doing with the Folk Festival," said Arthur Sutcliffe, board chairman of the Lowell Festival Foundation.
"He's young and energetic, and really knows the city," Sutcliffe added. "He fit all the criteria right from the start.
"At the top of Dwyer's list is fundraising. The foundation needs to raise money to keep the festival free for the public.
Dwyer is working on getting sponsors lined up for this year. He's looking for as much "new blood" as possible for new sponsorship money.
"We want the festival to remain open and accessible to everyone," he said.
Dwyer is also reaching out to the festival subcommittees, and learning which tasks still need to be done.
The job position was posted on Indeed and music sites, Sutcliffe said. There were quite a few applicants, he said, and they narrowed the field to six candidates. Then out of the three finalists, Dwyer stood out.
"He shined in his interviews," Sutcliffe said. "He really stood above the others."