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International Festival-Taste the Waters in Berkeley Springs

March 29, 2012

When you think of places around the world where people have enjoyed the “waters” I bet you can come up with a celebrated list of famous spa locations: Baden-Baden, Germany; Bath, Great Britain, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic; Glenwood Hot Springs, Colorado and so many more. There are springs that cater to the uber wealthy and many that are enjoyed by the rest of us with some accessible only to hikers off the beaten path.

But to find the International Water Tasting Festival, held this year from February 23-26, you had to  travel to the town of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

For centuries people have traveled to Berkeley Springs, WV to enjoy the health benefits of the warm mineral waters. Historically, Native Americans traveled from as far away as Canada, the Great Lakes and the Carolinas to bathe there. In the mid 1700s, George Washington  was a regular visitor and helped establish Berkeley Springs’ reputation as a health resort throughout the American Colonies.

Now a state park, the Berkeley Springs Baths carry on this centuries-old tradition.   Renovated in 1994, the Federal-style brick building was originally built in 1815 on the site of an earlier bath house.

Lord Fairfax public tap

The waters flow at a constant 74°F from the base of Warm Springs Ridge. You may still drink freely and fill your jugs at Lord Fairfax’s public tap  and wade in the ancient stone pools in the nation’s smallest state park. The town has endured cycles of notoriety, fashion, war and modern progress, but remains the Country’s First Spa, a small quiet haven set in the beauty of West Virginia’s mountains.

Each year during the last weekend of February the world arrives for the annual International Water Tasting Festival.  Blind taste tests include municipal waters, competing for the coveted honor of best tasting tap water.

More than 150 people watched at the Country Inn in Berkeley Springs on Saturday night as 11 media judges spent hours tasting and selecting from among 77 waters sourced in 20 states and nine foreign countries. There were 32 municipal waters from a dozen states, Canada and South Korea.

The 2012 winners

Best Municipal Water

Best in the World – Greenwood, BC, Canada

Best in the USA – St. Henry, Ohio

Second place – Santa Ana, CA

Third – Independence, MO

Fourth – Oxford, MI

Fifth-Lansing, MI

Best Bottled Water

First – Jackson Springs Natural Premium Spring Water, MB, Canada

Second – Virginia’s Best Natural Artesian Water, Edinburg, VA

Third – Almost Heaven, Manassas, VA bottling Berkeley Springs water

Fourth – Pristine Springs, Clear Spring, MD

Fifth – Palomar Mountain Premium Spring Water, Escondido, CA

Fifth – Agana, Buda, TX

Best Sparkling

First – Esparanza, Tesanj, Bosnia

Second – Antipodes, Whakatane, New Zealand

Third – Perrier Springs, Vergeze, France

Fourth – Source Saint-Elie, Saint-Elie-de-Caxton, PQ, Canada

Fifth – Mountain Valley Springs Water, Hot Springs, AZ

Best Packaging

First – MyCause Water, Mechanicsville, MD

Second – American Summit, Clark, WY

Third – HumanKind Water, Laurel Run, PA

Fourth – Source Saint-Elie, Saint-Elie-de-Caxton, PQ, Canada

Fifth – Hawaii at Iolani Palace, Big Island, HI

Best Purified Drinking Water

First – Claire Baie, Oak Creek, WI (gold in 2001 and 2006);

Second – Nestle Pure Life, Allentown, PA

Third – Rain Fresh Oxygen-Rich Purified Water, Garland, TX

Fourth – Berkeley Springs Purified Water, Berkeley Springs, WV

Fifth – Hamilton On Tap, Hamilton, OH

What’s your water?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Teresa Silverthorn permalink
    March 29, 2012 8:06 pm

    We distill our own 🙂

  2. March 30, 2012 9:30 am

    So happy you highlighted this very special annual Berkeley Springs event!
    And thanks to Dr. Allen Arnold for being a Judge this year! So much fun!

  3. Dee Bridwell permalink
    March 22, 2013 2:45 pm

    Mineral water is water that has either naturally or artificially added minerals. Many forms of mineral water are also carbonated, which may also be the result of natural processes. Unlike sparkling water, however, mineral water does not have to be carbonated, and is defined by its having over 250 parts per million (ppm) of a mineral substance.`

    Please do pay a visit to our new web portal

    • March 22, 2013 3:47 pm

      I think mineral water seems to be more widespread in Europe than here where people tend to request sodas. However, for those people who want mineral water restaurants seem only to carry well known names, so I imagine distribution of smaller bottlers can be a challenge.

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