by Jill Klein Rone, producer of Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting
Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting is being held at The Country Inn on Friday, February 24 & Saturday, February 25, 2023
Why does the Water Tasting matter?
This is a question that gets asked over and over. “Sure, water tasting might matter, but only to a handful of old men in Canada, right?” Actually, it has a huge impact on Berkeley Springs. Even if it doesn’t bring a line of people in to your business water tasting weekend. Even if you can’t imagine why something that sounds as silly as a “Water Tasting” would matter, the reality is, it does matter. It matters to Berkeley Springs, and it matters to your business, and it matters 365 days a year. (366 every four years!) Let me tell you why.
Did you know that the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting is the largest and longest running water tasting in the world? When it started in 1991, we never imagined the impact this award winning event would have on our town, and the world of water. Over the years, we have had over 735 distinct waters from 6 continents, 59 countries and 47 states and DC. Each one of those entries knows the name Berkeley Springs.
If you happen to be in Bosnia and go in to a grocery store, the bottle you pick up is going to have a Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting medal on it. (Well, if you choose the good water!) You’ll find it displayed on the sides of trucks in Bosnia, and on thousands of bottles sold all over the world. Sometimes, the only English words on a label are “Berkeley Springs”! Desert Hot Springs, California uses the fact that they won in marketing campaigns. Amos, Quebec, Canada, has it on huge welcome signs when you enter the town. Banners, signs, brochures and billboards brag about their winning water. Each and every one of them knows the name Berkeley Springs.
In my role as producer, I have had the honor and privilege to represent Berkeley Springs in California, Florida, Ohio, Canada, Romania, Spain, and even Greece … twice! My good friend and our Water Master who trains all of the judges, Arthur von Wiesenberger, is a noted water expert, author, radio and tv personality, and promotes water tasting and Berkeley Springs in his extensive travels year-round.
Our judges (trained by Arthur) are travel writers and freelance journalists who write about the water tasting in places like: ABC, NBC, AAA World, Blue Ridge Country Magazine, Buzzfeed, National Geographic Traveler, NPR, Southern Living Magazine, Spa Magazine, The State Journal, USA Today, Washingtonian, Washington Post, Washington Times, West Virginia Executive, West Virginia Living & WVPB.
Numerous regional, national, international and online publications; TV, radio and online media outlets and inflight magazines feature the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, resulting in thousands of headlines and column inches devoted to Berkeley Springs. We really could not pay for advertising like this! Games Across America sent reporters to watch our crazy competition. Many years ago Jay Leno (remember him?) even did a whole segment on the Tonight Show and sent a correspondent to that year’s winner, Kent, Ohio! You know who knows the name Berkeley Springs? Jay Leno! Okay, it’s been a while so he may have forgotten by now, but still, Jay Leno said “Berkeley Springs, West Virginia” on national tv because of the water tasting.
One of my favorite parts every year is our seminar: Water: Beneath the Surface and Around the Globe, which takes place on Friday from 1 – 5 p.m. For the last few years we have live streamed this event (as well as Saturday night’s award ceremony) and it’s viewed by people literally all over the world! The last few seminars have had thousands of views. The Package Design award is also determined by a worldwide audience, with voting online. It’s actually really fun to look at all of the bottles and decide which is your favorite – visit BerkeleySprings.com
beginning February 11 and you can vote too!
Because of the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, our town has accumulated numerous accolades:
- Declared coolest place on earth (we already knew that, but it’s always good when others notice too!)
- Runner-up Weirdest Festival in the Blue Ridge
- AWWA (American Water Works Association) award for promoting safe drinking water
- Dubbed world’s most prestigious water tasting by Buzzfeed
- WV state tourism media award for best radio coverage on NPR.
I’m excited about a new addition this year. Project WET (Water Education Today) will have three exhibits at the event, two of which are interactive. They will also present at the seminar, as well as visiting Pleasant View and Paw Paw Elementary Schools on Thursday, February 23. Bring the family to The Country Inn on Saturday, February 25 to learn from Project WET, and while you’re at it, visit the public tasting table to sample waters – bottled, sparkling and municipal – from all over the world!
Locals have reported people in unexpected places far away recognizing our home town, “Oh, I know Berkeley Springs! It’s where you do that water tasting!”
Berkeley Springs, our country’s first spa, takes the spotlight, and the opportunity to remind people that we must protect our most precious natural resource, water!
So the next time someone scoffs and says water tasting is silly or doesn’t matter, you’ll know just why the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting is so important to the town. Why it’s so important to your business. And why YOU should come join us to see just what a Water Tasting looks like.
Hope to see you there.
Jill Klein Rone
Producer – Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting