Berne Wood-Fired Pizza is back for dinner and music every Wednesday night.
The popular area destination for pizza, live music, and camaraderie will launch its 10th season on Wednesday, June 2, with the bands Root River Jam and County Line Drive.
Though 2020 was a tough year for Berne Wood-Fired Pizza, they were still able to offer their treats and tunes through curbside delivery and local music broadcast on FM radio.
“Pizza sales and crowds were definitely down. We still fed and entertained hundreds of nightly guests, and people were very happy we were open,” said Angela Organ, the Berne Wood-Fired Pizza events coordinator.
This year, the weekly event will be nearly back to normal.
“We continue to revise our plans based on updates received from the state of Minnesota,” Organ said. “Now that most restrictions have been removed, guests should find their experience to be very similar to past seasons.”
If you’ve never attended the event, you can expect it to be like a pizza picnic — only the food is provided. Bring your own seating, blankets, plates and silverware, and be ready to carry out your own trash. Beverages and ice cream will also be available for sale. Organ encouraged people to bring exact change to pay for pizzas — the organizers don’t accept credit cards.
Berne Wood-Fired Pizza sells hundreds of pizzas a night. One change this year is that guests will now have the option of ordering in advance on Eventbrite. This might be recommended because, on occasion, they do sell out of pizzas. In June, Organ expects bacon cheeseburger to be their most popular flavor, since it's the monthly special.
Throughout the summer, Berne Wood-Fired Pizza will present music from popular area performers. Bands like The Gopher Tones, JT & the Gunslingers, Fred the Bear, and Lost Faculties will be featured. The first group starts at 5 p.m., followed by the second at 6:30.
Berne’s music selection may have grown the most in the past decade.
“We began with mostly soloists or small group performers for the first few years,” Organ said. “After about five years, we realized our guests were arriving earlier, so in the past few seasons, we added two nightly concerts, and were fortunate enough to build a new stage with the support of area businesses.”
The summer-long season at Berne will end on Aug. 25 with a special “Cheers to 10 Years” Brewfest. The celebration will feature craft beer from Pine Island’s South x SouthEast Brewing company, along with music from Hair of the Dog and FABBAulous.
Organ said many people are surprised to learn that Berne Wood-Fired Pizza is run by volunteers. The event has help from more than 400 volunteers each year who work on behalf of nonprofits. Even the musicians volunteer their talents.
Part of the secret behind what makes the series so successful is that the event isn’t just about good food, friends, and a concert. It's also a good cause.
“When people come to Berne to buy a pizza, they're not only getting to enjoy a fun night out, but they should also know that the money raised in the past 10 years has supported the Berne church and nearly 80 area nonprofits,” like food shelves, Organ said.
Aside from becoming a parent, Organ said that her involvement with the Berne Wood-Fired Pizza series has been “the most rewarding accomplishment” of her life to date.
“I'll be just as excited on season 10, as I was on our opening night 10 years ago,” she said. “Knowing that this event is bringing joy to so many is just awesome.”
If you go
What: Berne Wood-Fired Pizza and Concerts
When: Every Wednesday night from June 2 to Aug. 25, with concerts at 5 and 6:30 p.m.
Where: Zwingli United Church of Christ, 23148 County Highway 24, West Concord