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International waters vie for awards here this weekend

The Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, set for this Saturday, February 24, has attracted waters from more than a dozen countries, and states from California to Florida. Held at The Country Inn, the event – now in its 34th year — is the largest and longest-running water tasting in the world.

Tasting of municipal waters, followed by purified drinking waters begins on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Non-carbonated bottled and sparkling waters are tasted at 6:30 p.m. Winners in all categories are announced at 8:30 p.m. Handcrafted glass water drops, created by West Virginia’s Appalachian Glass, are presented as awards.

All of Saturday’s events are free and open to the public at The Country Inn. The event is produced by Travel Berkeley Springs.

More than 750 distinct waters have entered over the life of the event, coming from all over the United States and from as far away as Greece, New Zealand, Tajikistan and Japan. Entries from 59 countries, Washington, D.C. and all but three states have been represented since the beginning in 1991.

“The impact of winning this event is extraordinary for a bottler,” said Jill Klein Rone, event producer.  “Many have experienced exponential growth, others closed major deals, and almost all winners redesign their labels to display their winning medal.”

A panel of media judges determine the official winners, but there is a role for the public. All day Saturday, attendees can taste water along with the judges.

Most importantly, the public votes for the People’s Choice Award for best packaging.

“How the product looks and grabs attention has become ever more important as the bottled water industry continues to grow,” said Klein Rone. “There are well over 600 brands of bottled water.”

The public can vote online for the People’s Choice package design.  Voting began February 10 and continues until Saturday at 8 p.m.

Anyone anywhere can vote by going to www.berkeleysprings.com to view the water package entries.

Voting also takes place all day Saturday, along with public tastings, and exhibit booths.  Host Bottler, Floridian Spring Water LLC, will be there to help quench the crowds’ thirst.

While the crowd gathers for the awards ceremony at the end of the day on Saturday, the BlackCat Village Band — a multigenerational instrumental ensemble — returns with their eclectic variety of tunes from around the globe.

“The real excitement for the audience comes at the conclusion,” she explains. “Once the awards are presented, we stage the now world-famous ‘water rush’ where folks scramble to take home some of the hundreds of bottles of water that have been used for display.”

The “water rush” was highlighted by cable television’s Games Across America.

Watermaster Arthur von Wiesenberger, noted expert and author from Santa Barbara, CA, trains the media judges and directs the challenge of evaluating a product where tastelessness is the most sought-after quality.

2023 Water Tasting judges at work.

Judges include representatives from the Insider’s Guide to Spas, WV Public Broadcasting, and CGTN America, as well as journalists and freelance writers whose work appears in various newspapers and magazines, travel sites, podcasts and blogs.

Free seminars & film Friday

“Water: Beneath the Surface and Around the Globe,” the event’s seminar, addresses industry issues on Friday February 23 from 1 – 5 p.m.  Topics include healthy hydration, key water issues, and actions individuals can take to help protect our water.

“We’re making a big splash this year with the world premiere of H2O: The Intelligence of Water on Friday, February 23 at 8 p.m. at the Historic Star Theatre in Berkeley Springs,” said Klein Rone. Filmed around the world, and at the 2022 Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, it is free and open to the public.

“Water is the source and sustenance of all life on planet earth, but her mysteries are just beginning to become known scientifically. Water may be gathering and processing information, not just in our bodies, but across the biosphere to which we humans are connected. The documentary explores these mysteries,” said the writer, director and producer Emmanel Itier, who will be present for a discussion after the premiere. “It’s a movie for everyone who realizes the importance of water in our lives.”

Both the seminars and Saturday night’s events are live streamed on the BerkeleySpringsWV Facebook page.

Lifetime Achievement award

Marc Edwards, whose research group conducted the investigative science uncovering the 2001-2004 D.C. Lead Crisis and the 2014-2016 Flint Water Disaster, will receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

A professor at Virginia Tech, Time magazine listed him amongst the four most important “Innovators” in water from around the world.

Edwards is a featured speaker at the seminar.

Tesanjski kiseljak and company Zema d.o.o. from Tesanj, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the presenting sponsor of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

For a full event schedule, visit https://berkeleyspringswatertasting.com/