The agenda of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Excellence in Business Awards at Cross Creek Country Club took a turn on Thursday night when a featured speaker was stranded halfway around the world.
Dr. Jan Kriska, proprietor of Thirsty Souls Community Brewing, was slated to be the first guest speaker at the event, but a missed plane left Kriska stranded in Alaska and unable to attend.
Chamber president Randy Collins pointed out the irony of the situation as Kriska had just traveled 1,000 miles on foot in the frozen Alaska winter to win the Iditarod Impossible in 29 days.
Collins read Kriska’s speech after congratulating him on his accomplishment, and noting he couldn’t imagine walking 1,000 miles under any conditions.
Thirsty Souls Community Brewing was the Gold level Sponsor of Thursday’s event, and Kriska’s remarks, as delivered by Collins, regarded the formation of that business.
Kriska had home-brewed in his basement, and thoughts of going pro were rejected by his wife Maria until Christmas three years ago when the idea began to gain momentum.
He loved the building they found on Market Street — an old funeral home — and said to his kids, “Let’s start a brewery.”
They founded Thirsty Souls and opened in August 2017 with the goal being “a space people could come and relax and feel like they were in their own living room.”
The brewery has 15 beers, from light to heavy, including Belgian ale and a sour ale and now offers pizza.
Collins then introduced Maddie Gardner, a morning news anchor for WFMY News 2 in Greensboro and a Mount Airy native, who gave the keynote address.
Gardner earned a degree in broadcast journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2016 and was a 2012 graduate of Mount Airy High School.
She began her talk by saying the rumors of early hours for morning news anchors are correct.
“I set my alarm for 1:30 a.m.,” she said, adding she is fortunate to work so close to home, and was happy to be in Greensboro, in her home market.
“Truly, there is no place like home,” said Gardner, saying a lot has changed about Mount Airy since she left. “Sometimes, I have to do a double take so much has changed.”
“As happy as I am about all the change, I want one thing to stay the same. The people.”
Gardner then spoke extensively on the value of networks, and the Mount Airy network in particular.
“The Mount Airy network is a great network to have. You can’t put a price on a good network.”
While still in school, Gardner said she reached out to a WFMY meteorologist from Mount Airy, which resulted in an internship and two years later a job.
“You can really end up anywhere right out of college,” said Gardner, but she credited the Mount Airy network with landing her a position in her desired market.
She spoke of the changes in television news, saying of sitting down to watch the five o’clock news, “It’s not a thing anymore.”
Gardner ended her talk by telling the audience, “You guys are the people who are growing the Mount Airy network.”
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.