It's a question many in the community have been wondering for months, ever since long-time emcee Kirk Kirkpatrick first announced his decision to retire from the role last year.
Chamber staff members - with Kirkpatrick's help - teased the public with a video poking fun at Kirkpatrick's many years as emcee and his successor's "plan" to replace him.
But actually, new emcee Chad Benefield told reporters after the breakfast, he knows he has "big shoes to fill" as the emcee. If this morning's breakfast was any indication, he didn't disappoint.
Even before he stepped onto the stage, the excitement began to build with a replay of the spoof video from last month. The video started with Kirkpatrick tied to a chair in a basement where he is ridiculed by a person in a rooster mascot outfit. Of course, Benefield took off the mask at the end of the video.
Benefield then joined the Chamber officers and guests on the stage, where he kept the audience entertained for the next 90 minutes. He kicked off his routine by thanking the musicians who performed as people were coming into the breakfast and noting one of the singers was "available."
Although a regular dating service probably won't be part of the monthly program, Benefield said he and Chamber CEO Amy Jackson had met to work on developing a series of skits that will be unique, and different than Kirkpatrick's various presentations. For example, the "good news phone," which Kirkpatrick started as a running gag when economic times were bad, has been retired. In its place, Benefield and Jackson introduced "something to crow about," which allows people in the audience to share positive news about themselves and their business.
Another skit that will be a regular part of the Chamber Rooster Booster is a new video series entitled "Chamber Danger." The first video shown at the end of this morning's breakfast depicted Benefield at the Owensboro Flea Market in the Convention Center, where he spoke with a variety of different vendors.
After the breakfast, Benefield said one of the future "Chamber Danger" videos will be called "Ron Payne: The Musical."
"We're doing it," he said when asked if he was being serious.
Benefield said Jackson approached him about becoming emcee, and he "jumped at the chance."
"I didn't have to think twice," he said.
Other speakers at the event this morning took the opportunity to welcome Benefield to the Chamber team.
"I've known Chad since I was 13 and I'm as scared as you are," Owensboro Economic Development Corporation CEO Madison Silvert said jokingly as he addressed the crowd.
Silvert unveiled a new plan to "co-brand" the county's three economic minded agencies: "the Chamber, the EDC, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau" in a new campaign to promote Daviess County and Owensboro. Silvert also said the EDC will be hosting the first of a year-long series of public workshops on the subject of what Owensboro will look like 50 years from now. The "Owensboro in 2065" study will focus on education, energy, transportation, and health.
Guest speaker this morning was Brad Thomas with the Kentucky Export Initiative. Thomas said Kentucky is ranked number 2 among states in terms of exports, and exported more than $25 billion in goods last year.He said the top exports include aerospace products and motor vehicles and parts.
Photos provided by Dennis Beard
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