With perfect weather drawing a large crowd, Berne Wood-Fired Pizza opened its seventh season of pizza and concerts last Wednesday with a ribbon cutting at its new stage.
Berne's previous stage, which was more than 50 years old, was in disrepair, said Angela Organ, event coordinator.
Pizza is served picnic style every Wednesday night in June, July and August on the grounds of Zwingli United Church of Christ from 5 to 8 p.m. with concerts beginning at 5 and 6:30 p.m. Funds raised support the church and its chosen nonprofit beneficiaries.
Last week's event saw performances by Les Fields and the Turkey River All-Stars and LP and the 45s and crafts for children in addition to the ribbon cutting and pizza. The new stage provides performers with a roof and lighting as well as improving acoustics for guests, Organ said. The stage will also be used for other events such as weddings, she said.
In raising the money to build the new stage, she said, the response from local businesses was tremendous and representatives of the donors were on hand for the ribbon cutting.
"When the checks started to arrive, it was truly humbling," Organ said.
"Sponsors repeatedly expressed their support of what we're doing in Berne and wanted to be a part of our mission of giving back. We are extremely grateful to every business and individual who contributed."
Inaugural sponsors, were David Derby of Derby Builders and Brian Hale of Thrivent Financial - Zumbro-Cannon Valley. Other major sponsors included Farmers State Bank of West Concord, McNeilus Steel, R&M Steel, Ellingson Companies, Czaplewski Family Funeral Homes and Crematory and Citizens State Bank of Hayfield.
About 65 percent of the work for the weekly pizza is done by church members, Organ said, with the other 35 percent done by local partners. Helping out over the summer are Faith Lutheran in Dodge Center, St. Paul's Lutheran in Pine Island, Mineola Lutheran in Goodhue, the West Concord Ambulance and Fire Department and the Mantorville Theater Company.
After each season is over, Organ said, they decide which groups will be beneficiaries. Since the first year of pizza, she said, over 45 organizations have benefited.
Read the rest of the story in the print edition of the Star Herald.