International Festivals: Tasting the Waters


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 must 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.

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, 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. Bottled waters, both still and sparkling are judged, along with waters in a new category in 2012, purified drinking water.  The public will have an opportunity to vote for the People’s Choice award for best packaging.

2011 Award Winners

Municipal Water
Gold: …Daytona Beach, FL
Silver….Desert Hot Springs, CA
Bronze: Santa Ana, CA
4th — Oxford, MI
5th — Kent, OH

Non-Carbonated Bottled Water 
Gold: Muskoka Springs, Jarratt, Ontario, Canada
Silver: Pristine Springs, Clear Springs, MD
Bronze: Highbridge Springs, Wilmore, KY
4th —Almost Heaven, Manassas, VA bottling famous Berkeley Springs, WV
5th — English Mountain Springs Water, Dandridge, TN

Purified Drinking Water 
Gold: Texan Independence Water, League City, TX
Silver: Rain Fresh Oxygen Rich Purified Water, Garland, TX
Bronze: Mother’s Finest, Reidsville, NC
4th — Berkeley Springs Purified Water, Berkeley Springs, WV
5th –Virginia Natural Water – Charlottesville, VA

Carbonated Bottled Water 
Gold: Esperanza, Tesanj, Bosnia
Silver: Mountain Valley Sparkling Water, Hot Springs, AR
Bronze: Tesanjski Dijament, Tesanj, Bosnia
4th —Antipodes, Whakatane, New Zealand
5th- – Arctica, Marchand, MB, Canada

The People’s Choice for Package Design
Gold: Tasmanian Rain, Tasmania
Silver: Antipodes, Whakatane, New Zealand
Bronze: Canadian Gold, Marchand, MB, Canada
4th —Bling H2O, Los Angeles, CA
5th — Hawaiian Springs Young Natural Artesian Water, Kea’au, Hawaii

What’s your water?

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5 Responses to International Festivals: Tasting the Waters

  1. Eléonora says:

    Tasting water! Sounds like something I would love to do to! Thanks for linking my post by the way 🙂

  2. It’s a lot of fun to go to a tasting of any sort! Tonight we have a wine tasting in our town.

  3. Eléonora says:

    Sounds like a lot of fun. I would have loved the water tasting one, I don’t drink alcohol though 🙂

  4. Water tasting is always a sport in Berkeley Springs where visitors can take home the fanous spring water from a free pump in Berkeley Springs State Park in the heart of town. Those of us lucky enough to live hear get it as our municipal tap water. Check http://www.berkeleysprings.com for the 2012 winners of the International Water Tasting. Come next year and taste along with the judges. It’s always the last Saturday in February.

  5. I will bring a container to get water when I head there in May!!

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