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Berkeley Springs hosts 18th annual water tasting-event Saturday

February 19, 2008

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The award-winning 18th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting welcomes bottled and municipal waters from around the world on Saturday at The Country Inn.

The event is the largest and longest running water-tasting competition in the world.

Tasting of municipal waters, followed by purified drinking water, begins at 2:30 p.m. Bottled waters, both still and sparkling, are tasted at 6:30 p.m. Winners in all categories are announced at a public awards reception at 8 p.m.

Entries come from all over the United States, including California, Florida and Alaska, and from as far away as New Zealand, Iceland and Romania.

"The impact of winning this event is extraordinary," said Jeanne Mozier, an event founder. "Over the years, at least 20 bottled winners have redesigned their labels to showcase the medal they won here."

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A panel of media judges determines the official winners, but there is a role for the public. All day Saturday, the public can taste water along with the judges. The public votes for the People's Choice award for best packaging.

"The real excitement for the audience comes at the conclusion," she said. "Once the awards are presented, we stage the 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 has been highlighted by cable television's Games Across America.

Watermaster Arthur von Wiesenberger, noted expert and author from Santa Barbara, Calif., trains the media judges and directs the challenge of evaluating a product where tastelessness is the most sought after quality. The unique event, dubbed the "granddaddy of water tastings," by von Wiesenberger, is produced by Travel Berkeley Springs.

It is free and open to the public.

Handcrafted fused-glass slump bowls created by Amingo Glass of Hedgesville, W.Va., are presented as awards in the municipal, bottled and still water categories as well as for purified drinking water and best packaging design.

Judges for the 2008 Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting include freelance journalists and representatives from Water Innovation Magazine in Bath, England; Atlantic and Pittsburgh Magazines; WV Executive and Southern Fried Magazine.

The water tasting weekend begins on Thursday with preliminary tastings at The Country Inn. Special events and activities continue everywhere in Morgan County through Sunday.

The Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting is the centerpiece event of the Winter Festival of the Waters, which features three months of special activities, sales and accommodation packages.

For more information and a free calendar of events, call Travel Berkeley Springs at 800-447-8797 or check www.berkeleysprings.com.

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