TF's Royal Lady revealed
Sandra Berg dwells on history, innovation and commitments
Greg Marsten | Staff writer
TAYLORS FALLS, Minn. – The 2013 Taylors Falls Royal Lady of the Village was announced last week in the basement of the recently enhanced Taylors Falls Memorial Community Center, which is, ironically, where the new royalty spends a lot of her time.
Sandra Berg is not only a local resident and volunteer, she is the president of the Taylors Falls Historical Society and has been the progenitor behind several of the society's recent innovations.
The Royal Lady designation is part of the city's annual Lighting Festival, which occurs this Friday evening, Nov. 29, and is the traditional start of the holiday season, with a parade and numerous events to celebrate the holidays.
Berg is the latest in a long line of dedicated Taylors Fallsians who have worn the royal red robe and worked to promote the city, going back to the 1980s.
She is a not only the president of the historical society, she has been an innovator in their programming, encouraging new ways to fund and enhance the society, especially since the city moved to renovate, lift and restore the old depot. The society now uses that fresh new basement area for a home, office and meeting center.
She praised the city's leaders and local historians, noting their commitment to the society and maintaining the city's historical structures and features, such as the Folsom House and Community Center/Depot. She gives high praise to the city for improving the former depot for the residents and society's use, and also notes their encouragement.
"Our city council, bless their hearts, they saw the value in this place (the community center)," Berg said. "Not all councils do see that kind of value!"
Berg grew up across the river in St. Croix Falls, but her husband, Brian, was from Taylors Falls. The couple decided to moved back to the city eight years ago after he retired. They had a combined three parents between them in the area, and all three had health issues.
"We wanted to give them something good in their final years," she said.
With some encouragement from their family, the couple has also been instrumental in advancing a project for senior assisted living in the city, as they donated seven acres of land to the Good Samaritan Society for just such a project, which is slated to be built next year in the city.
She calls the family property a "cathedral of sorts," and is notably proud of the city heritage and history. She has been at the forefront of promoting the many projects at the Folsom House, from the "after dark" series to the historic book club, video promotion and unique displays in the center's basement.
"People just love meeting at the Folsom House, on the lawn, in the parlor, everywhere. It is such a great place!" she said.
She outlined goals of the society in the coming years, from additional educational involvement with local students to a focus on W.H.C. Folsom's role in developing early Minnesota government, to other contributions the lumber baron made to the region.
"Mr. Folsom was a writer of the Minnesota Constitution, we want to get more kids involved in knowing about him," she said. "We want to give them an appreciation."
Berg is an accomplished entrepreneur and has started three different businesses over the years, from a bridal shop to a public relations firm to an antique mall.
"I like big start-ups!" she exclaimed, talking about the excitement of starting a new venture and how fulfilling it is to see them succeed.
Besides being a successful business owner, Berg is also president of the Good Samaritan Society Auxiliary in St. Croix Falls, and she is very active in the Methodist Church, where she initiated a puppet ministry and education program.
But she is quick to deflect any credit, giving special recognition to volunteers, advocates and others in the city, as well as her family.
"This community has more people willing to help out. They see a need and are willing to pitch in," she said.
But Berg also admits her surprise in the honor of being selected as the latest Royal Lady, while again deflecting the credit.
"I was completely and totally shocked!" she admitted with a grin. "I have a wonderful husband. He not only supports what I do, but also encourages it. I don't think I could do it with somebody else."
Berg is also well-suited for wearing the royal red robe, as she has played Mrs. Claus for years in Hudson, where her two children live.
The Taylors Falls Royal Lady of the Village is an honor bestowed on a woman who has made a significant contribution to the city and has been active in promoting Taylors Falls "above and beyond the ordinary."
"I just want to say I am completely and totally honored by this," Berg said. "It really is a special honor."