Arts community a driving force behind tourism in Berkeley Springs

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BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. (WDVM) — Berkeley Springs in the eastern panhandle is quickly becoming a tourist mecca. A lot of that has to do with the arts community there. It is driving tourism to the eastern panhandle.

Steeped in history, the town is attracting visitors to its mineral baths, charming inns, and the scenic Cacapon State Park. But there is also a thriving, dynamic arts community.

“We’ve been rated the best small-town arts community in America a couple of times. We have become nationally recognized as a small-town arts community. And it’s a big, big thing for us and the local tourism industry,” says Tom Rubel, the Morgan Arts Council executive director.

There’s no doubt about it in the mind of Rubel’s colleague at the Ice House in town, Eddy Rubin. He stages the colorful, attractive exhibits which bring in the locals and many visitors to the arts council anchor venue.

“I can tell you,” Rubin says, “we are a happening place for arts tourism. After talking to tourists again and again, over the past several years, I’ve found out that arts is one of the main reasons that they come here. They know that we have the reputation as being a great small arts community.”

And one which attracts international talent as well. Hiroko Rubin designs, from Japanese fabric, colorful dolls, bags, and scarves. And in times of a pandemic, she designs exotic creations.

“This is an awesome Japanese fabric mask,” she says, pointing to the colorful fabric. “You cannot get it anywhere else.”

With the popularity of the arts community in Berkeley Springs, the Ice House plans to double the square footage of its facility. This March the Ice House will showcase artwork exclusively created by youth from the Morgan County area.

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