Sometimes you meet people that personify the Nike slogan, “Just do it.” The eNews team wants to start out the year by recognizing a couple of local folks who fit in that category.
Rosalee Darby and Barry Barbe probably don’t have a lot in common. But they definitely share one trait - when their passion is engaged, expect nothing but total and complete buy-in.
Rosalee Darby describes herself on Facebook as being the administrator of the family business, Darby & Sons Equipment Repair. Yeah, well, that doesn’t even begin to describe all that she’s up to!
Darby and her husband, Levi, own an equipment repair company. They have 4 sons and the family is active in FFA and other organizations. But, she is also the General Manager/Chairman of the Yavapai County Fair. Not that she makes a boatload of money at the Fair - all her efforts are volunteer.
“I think local county fairs are important,” Darby explained during an interview in 2016. “Our county was lacking that dynamic of a complete county fair. It really became a real push with me when my kids would show, and wanted to not show here. If I would say, ‘Let’s eliminate something,’ they’d say, ‘Let’s eliminate home.’”
We caught up with Darby at the FFA Corn Dinner in Chino Valley.
That wasn’t acceptable to Darby. “I’d say, ‘Whoa, that doesn’t help me out.’ I wanted them to get that same feel you get when you go to other places, and there’s that complete family, common feel, that we live in a small community and we come together to celebrate. And that’s what we need to have. We have too much evil in this world right now, and we need to come together in our community and our county and celebrate together.”
When you see Darby at the fair, if she’s not talking to someone directly, she’s probably on her phone.
It takes a lot of work to keep the fair running smoothly.
So, Darby gathered her family and made the County Fair a project. One of the first steps was to move the fair back to the Prescott Rodeo Grounds She got the FFA and the 4H involved. And on October 1, 2015 the County Fair was back in Prescott as a family-friendly, school-welcoming, animal-showing event that gets better every year. This year included bull riding, ranch events, a family fun night (complete with a grocery race, greased pig race and money calf race) great performers, a gymkhana, carnival rides and everything you associate with the County Fair except for, maybe, Wilbur. (Not to worry, plenty of his kin were there).
Darby also heads up the FFA Corn Dinner in Chino Valley (if you haven’t gone, you should. It’s great food and lots of fun - all for a terrific cause.)
It would be easy for Darby to have said, “Someone needs to do this,” and let it rest at that. But instead, Darby said, “I can do this,” and did.
By the way, the dates for the 2018 County Fair have already been set: September 6-9. Mark your calendars now!
Barry Barbe is the owner of El Gato Azul a quirky and cosy restaurant about a block or so from the Square on Goodwin Street. The food is great, and if you haven’t been there to eat, you’ll want to change that, and soon. Don’t take my word for it, El Gato has been featured on Check, Please! Arizona, Thrilllist.com and more.
It’s not unexpected that Barbe is very interested in the arts and the public library. He was alarmed when he heard the City of Prescott might cut library services, and he decided to do something about it. He started a postcard project, hading out postcards to anyone that would accept them, and asked them to write what the library meant to them. Soon thousands of postcards written by every-day citizens were being delivered to Prescott City Council members, several stacks each week.
But then Barbe encountered a dilemma. He didn’t want library services cut, but when he understood the enormity of the Public Safety Pension Retirement System (PSPRS) financial liability facing the City of Prescott, Barbe could understand that budgets were being stretched beyond a simple solution.
In the meantime, a group was forming called Stand For Prescott, advocating a .75¢ sales tax increase, dedicated completely to the PSPRS payoff, which would end when the $80M+ debt was paid down to just $1.5 million or in 10 years, whichever came first. The ballot measure was called Prop 443.
“You can’t support the library and have it continue on its own without a revenue source,” Barbe acknowledged. He threw his support behind Prop 443, hosting events at his restaurant, donating food to other related events, attending City Council meetings and, basically doing whatever he could to ensure that voters were educated and would vote yes on Prop 443. Getting people in Prescott to pass a tax increase isn't easy, but Barbe was patient and ready with facts, figures and answers.
Fast forward through several months of Barbe’s life. Prop 443 has passed, the Council has restored some library services and do not seem interested in any program reductions or cuts.
Of course, these aren’t the only causes Barbe advocates for. He sponsored and organized a Lupus Palooza event, benefitting those with Lupus; helped with the Prescott Film Festival and much more. Usually this is at his own expense. If there is a worthwhile project to support, Barry Barbe is probably the one to enlist.
When it comes to which is the most significant person, comparisons don’t really matter. What is important is that both Barbe and Darby saw something that needed to happen, and then stepped into the niche wholeheartedly. You’ll notice we didn’t write about this at the end of 2017, we published this article at the beginning of 2018. That’s because we don’t think these two are finished making a difference in the community. They’re the type of people that see a need and go for it, and new needs will presumably continue to show up.
Editor's note: Darby and Barbe had no idea they were being considered for this article. When we sent the link to Darby, she responded, "... I have just got home today from the Arizona livestock show with 10 kids and taking 8 to Denver on Saturday for the national western livestock show till the 15th..." Now you see why she was chosen!