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Our Town: Dru Handy

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By Lynn Burton
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

Dru Handy was born in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1960. His family moved to the Front Range when he was 5 years old after the Good Friday earthquake. He grew up in Niwot, Colorado (near Boulder) and rolled in to the Roaring Fork Valley in the fall of 1978 to attend Colorado Mountain College. From there he worked three winters at Aspen Highlands, and also in the local firewood industry, the now defunct Buffalo Valley and T-Joe’s Mexican restaurants. He started painting when he was 20 and started his own company, Dru Handy Custom Painting & Finishes, Inc., 10 years later. Mountain Fair board members and a few others know that Handy introduced the mojito cocktail to the Roaring Fork Valley. Here is a bit more about him.

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THE SOPRIS SUN: Why did you come here?

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DRU HANDY: Divine intervention? I’m not sure. I studied mostly acting at CMC and wasn’t overly concerned about anything that might actually be conducive to my oh-so- bright future. I was struck by the similarities between people here and myself. It might have been the first time I had met like-minded people. I knew I was here to stay.


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Q: How did you get by after college?

A: My group of friends and myself used to work for a lot of the “ringers” up and down the valley. Whatever they wanted – yards dug up, fences put in, large rocks moved or logs shaved. We sweated greatly for those C-notes.

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Q: Were there any events (local, national, international) that affected your ability to stay in the Roaring Fork Valley?

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A: Nothing dramatically affected my stay here. The Twin Towers and the most recent recession slowed us down a bit, but we’ve been able to maintain a good reputation and have weathered those set backs.


Q: How about your family?

A: My wife’s name is Tracy, my son’s name is Dalton and my daughter’s name is Madison. Tracy taught school here for a few decades before accepting a position as a literacy consultant for the State of Colorado Department of Education. Dalton graduated from the University of Denver and now works doing business marketing at the Tech Center in Denver. Madison recently finished her undergrad at D.U. and will be headed to George Washington in D.C. for grad work in the fall. I’m an incredibly fortunate father.


Q: What all have you been involved with in Carbondale?

A: When my kids were young, I coached soccer, softball, baseball and club volleyball. In the days the kids were in high school, I sat at the table for volleyball games keeping the clock. I also did the scoreboard at basketball games and announced football games on Friday night. When I was younger, I took full advantage of Mountain Fair, therefore when I got older and (somewhat wiser) felt the need to give back. I was on the Mountain Fair board for many years … lots of jobs there but the most memorable was running the Cantina the first few years CCAH took back control of it … Some of the most fun a guy can have and still be working 12 hours a day.


Q: What about the mojito?

A: I was somewhat responsible for the mojito at the fair. We wanted to find the perfect drink for the fair so I kept bringing rum samples to board meetings. When Bob Schultz and Priscilla Dickinson both mentioned mojitos, we knew we were on the right path. After much difficult sampling, we came up with the perfect drink for the fair.


Q: What’s your most favorite Carbondale event?

A: It’s always been Mountain Fair but I have such strong memories of the old Talent Show. Now we have 5Point (film festival) and the Fashion Show, which are amazing events and prove what an incredible cast of characters we have in this town, and what commitment, awesome artistic talent and a strong work ethic can do for our community.


Q: What are some of the changes you’ve seen over the years?

A: Normally, I view change as a negative but when it comes to Carbondale, I do an about face. We have such positive change here – from the diversity of coal miners,

hippies, ranchers and nerds, to Latinos and other immigrants. I believe Carbondale is further along on the cultural evolutionary scale than most communities. I believe the presence of art in all its forms has opened our mind and heart to accept each other as we are. First Friday and all of the art venues have been a positive change.


If you know of someone who should be featured in “Our Town,” email or call 510-3003.

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