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Judging 'tastelessness' at W.Va. water competition

February 19, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - More than 100 samples of water from as far away as New Zealand will vie for top prizes during the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting this weekend.

Billed as the largest and longest water tasting competition in the world, the event will be held Saturday, Feb. 21, at Coolfont Resort and Conference Center.

The event crowns the 14th annual Winter Festival of the Waters in historic Berkeley Springs, site of the country's first spa. The festival features a variety of special activities, sales, spa and lodging packages through March. The Travel Berkeley Springs Web site at www.berkeleysprings.com details these offerings.

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The water-tasting weekend kicks off today with preliminary tastings at Coolfont. Water-related displays, discussions and seminars will fill Friday's schedule. Guest speakers for the "Water: Our Legacy" seminar from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday include Dorothy Vesper of West Virginia University's Department of Geology and Geography, Scott Shipe of the American Waterworks Association and Rosanna Long of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, event producer Jill Klein Rone said.

Long will discuss Project WET, which stands for Water Education for Teachers, a nonprofit water education program geared for students ages 5 to 18. The program promotes awareness, knowledge and stewardship of water resources through the dissemination of classroom-ready teaching aids, according to the Project WET Web site at www.projectwet.org. Rone invite educators to take advantage of the opportunity to talk to Long about the free program.

On Saturday, Coolfont visitors can sample worldwide waters and cast their votes for the People's Choice award for best bottled water packaging. The official tasting competition starts at 3:30 p.m. with the municipal water contest. Purified, bottled, still and sparkling waters from around the world will be judged for purity and packaging starting at 7:30 p.m. Watermaster Arthur von Wiesenberger of Santa Barbara, Ca., heads the roster of judges for this year's water tasting. Von Wiesenberger will train judges from local and national newspapers and magazines "in the subtle techniques of rating a substance for which tastelessness is the most sought after quality," Rone said.

A reception and awards presentation follow the judging at 9 p.m. Winners will receive hand-crafted, fused-glass slump bowls from Amingo Glass of Hedgesville, W.Va.

The watery weekend wraps up Sunday with a guided waterfowl and winter birds walk near Berkeley Springs. The hike begins at 11 a.m. at Cabins by O'Brien, 4678 Cherry Run Road in Hedgesville, W.Va.

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