This February 25th – 28th, my hometown is hosting the 26th Annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting competition. It’s just one of the many quirky events that the tiny town holds throughout the year. Over a hundred competitors present their best tap and bottled waters in hopes of taking home the gold.
I should mention that the BEST IN THE WORLD honor is only awarded to tap waters, with entries from across the United States, Canada, and as far away as Thailand and New Zealand. The incumbent and 3 time winner, Hamilton, OH, is looking to hold onto the gold after toppling reigning champ, Emporia, KS. I’m throwing my hat in with Berkeley Springs, WV municipal water, of course.
So why this enthusiasm for a water tasting, and not the classical choices of wine, bourbon, or microbrews? Well, it’s because I didn’t understand how good I had it until I left. My parents, owners of Bella Mattina B&B, have amazing well water. It’s cool, crisp, and clear. As water should be, yeah? Growing up, everyone had a favorite, clear swimming hole with obligatory rope swing along Sleepy Creek. The valley between the Cacapon and Sleepy Creek Mountains has a long history attracting people to its mineral springs. Just check out the Roman baths and modern spas that the town offers.
Living in the city has its countless perks, but not included in that list is its treated water that smells suspiciously like fish tank and tastes stale. I’ve tried filtering. I’ve tried double filtering. It’s potable, but not pleasurable to drink. Nothing seems to live up to that first sip of clean, cool water directly from the well at my parents’ bed and breakfast. Possibly I’m being nostalgic, but probably not.
Berkeley Springs, WV is only a 2 hour drive from both Washington, DC and Baltimore, great for weekend getaways. Dress attire for the water tasting competition, per the website, is “black tie / bib-overalls optional”.
*I may or may not have drunk straight from this hydrant as a kid.