Look-Alikes to Compete ‘Ernestly’ During Key West’s Hemingway Days
KEY WEST, Florida Keys — More than 120 white-bearded, stocky men resembling Ernest Hemingway are to compete for the title of “Papa” during the 35th annual Hemingway Days, Key West’s summer festival honoring its most famous literary resident.
Spectators can cheer for their favorites during nightly rounds of the “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest Thursday through Saturday, July 23-25, at Sloppy Joe’s Bar. The 201 Duval St. saloon was a frequent hangout for Hemingway, who penned works that became American literary classics while living in Key West for nearly a decade in the 1930s.
Set for July 21-26, Hemingway Days celebrates the Nobel Prizewinning authors writing talent, sporting pursuits and colorful Key West lifestyle.
Look-alike contestants come from around the United States and other countries to vie for the coveted title. They typically compete wearing safari gear or wool fishermen’s turtlenecks, apparel identified with the author, and attempt to emulate the “Papa” persona adopted by Hemingway in his later years.
Preliminary rounds are set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 23 and 24, with the finals at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The contest is judged by the bearded brotherhood of former winners including 2014’s Wally Collins of Phoenix, Arizona.
Look-alikes also take center stage at Sloppy Joe’s “Running of the Bulls,” a spoof of the renowned annual event in Pamplona, Spain. More a parade of “Papas” than a fast-paced sporting challenge, the offbeat run features mock bulls and begins at 1 p.m. Saturday outside Sloppy Joe’s. It is preceded by a photo opportunity for “Papa-razzi” at noon.
Also scheduled is a Wednesday evening “meet and greet” where contestants and their fans can mingle with former winners, as well as a catch-and-release “fish-off” with traditional handlines. In addition, the “Papas” are to announce the recipients of the Hemingway Look-Alike Society’s annual scholarships for Florida Keys students.
Many aspiring “Ernests” attempt to prove their strength in Sloppy Joe’s final festival event, an annual arm-wrestling championship. Registration is set for 11 a.m. Sunday, July 26, with the contest following at noon.