The Berkeley Springs, WV, International Water Tasting Festival

Guest: Jill Klein

Jill Klein (Berkley Springs, WV), Producer of the International Water Tasting Festival. “Raising Water Awareness through Festival and Theater”

Jill Klein is producer of the International Water Tasting Festival at Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, and is also the producer and co-author of the New World Theater presentation about the importance of water, called “The Ripple Effect.”

Before moving to Berkeley Springs, Jill had been a working actor for many years but was always sensitive to stress, pollution and the taste of the local water. When she decided to settle down in a small town, she selected the place with the best water she could find, Berkeley Springs. She says her stress level was greatly reduced by the small down atmosphere (population about 1,000) and by living near a creek amid lots of trees.

The festival began 19 years ago to promote the town of Berkeley Springs, whose most marketable assets are its warm springs and its water. The town is located near the Potomac River in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, not far from Harper’s Ferry, where the Civil War started (and 90 miles from Washington, DC). The festival is one of several Berkeley Springs events in January, February and March (which used to be the off-season for tourists). The Festival takes place every February.

Jill explained that no two waters drawn from different sources taste exactly alike and that the Festival has trained several water tasting experts, under the tutelage of Water Master Arthur Von Weisenberger, who was interviewed on last week’s Sharon Kleyne Hour.

There are about 100 entries in each category each year. Categories include municipal water, bottled spring water, sparkling spring water and processed water. Waters are judged by appearance, odor, flavor, mouth feel, aftertaste and overall. The 2008 gold medal winner for city water was the Metropolitan Water District in Southern California, which includes Los Angeles.

When not working on the Festival, Jill also produces the New World Theater production called “the Ripple Effect.” The show lasts about 45 minutes and uses music and humor to teach about the need to drink plenty of water and protect our water supply. It also teaches that each individual can make a difference in the quality of their environment. The show is primarily directed at children and is performed at schools and festivals throughout the region.

For more information, go to www.berkeleysprings.com and/or www.newworldtheater.com.

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