Woman says she was drawn to healing water of Berkeley Springs

February 15, 2005|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Jill Klein Rone, producer of the Winter Festival of the Waters, said she didn't know anything about the water in Berkeley Springs until she and her former husband and partner came here to perform their "juggling, music (she played the squeezebox) and fire eating" act for the opening of The Star Theatre in 1977.

On that visit, she was introduced to the mineral water at Berkeley Springs State Park. "Having an abundance of good water to drink and enough of it was really important," Klein Rone said.

She grew up in Los Angeles and was born with allergies and asthma. The smog probably contributed to the ailments, she said, and she wanted to live in the country - to "get back to the land."


"We were drawn here without knowing specifically why. We found artists and healers and like-minded people who were also drawn here." When they traveled to cities in Florida, the Carolinas and Georgia and saw that in Berkeley Springs' bottled water was available to buy, that was another reason for living with the water.

"I've also felt that Berkeley Springs was home; I was drawn here. The water brought me here," she said.

Her home is called Mountain Run Farm, and her daughter, Happy, was born there in June 1980. "I can see water from the house, and when we have heavy rains and it produces enough water, I can hear it, and I'm drawn to take a walk to the creek."

Klein Rone has produced the annual Berkeley Springs Winter Festival of the Waters since 2002. She was the event's public relations director for seven years, she said, and then began producing the show alone. The show keeps her busy, but she still runs the New World Theater Co. that was created 28 years ago. "I am a performer, and I enjoy producing," she said.

"Music, magic and merriment is what I do," Klein Rone said. Sometimes, she plays the accordion and tells funny stories at retirement communities. She is a strolling musician at state and county fairs and festivals, and she offers "Mystery!" interactive theater where audience members participate with the actors.

"I like to make people laugh," she said.

She is scheduled to perform the "Ripple Effect" this spring, which is about water and the environment to teach all ages the importance of water protection, awareness and conservation, Klein Rone said.

Klein Rone's "Jilli," a new clown character she recently created, will be introduced at the Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, Va., on May 1. "Professionally it's been a very exciting time; creative sparks are flying."

This is the 15th anniversary of the Winter Festival of the Waters. In 1994, Kent, Ohio, won the water tasting event, and "The Tonight Show" did a spoof on it. "That's what put the water tasting event on the map," Klein Rone said.

The Fox Network and the National Geographic channel have covered the event, and the Game Show Network is interested in covering it this year, she said. Events will be held from Feb. 24-27, and the final water tasting and awards ceremony will be held at Coolfont Resort. One of the water tasters this year is state Sen. John Unger, she said.

Klein Rone said she works all year promoting the International Water Tasting event. "It's a good thing; people have a good time."

Last September, Klein Rone was invited to Romania to present the 2004 Sparkling Water award to Borsec, the category winner of the International Water Tasting event. Klein Rone said several gazebos around Borsec provide water from a fountain like in Berkeley Springs State Park. "Only it's carbonated," she said.

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