Annual Hemingway look-alike contest begins in the Florida Keys

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Nearly 140 bearded men who look like Ernest Hemingway have converged on Key West, the late author’s 1930s home, to enter the Hemingway Look-Alike contest that kicked off Thursday night.

The challenge is a highlight of the island’s Hemingway Days festival which salutes the literary talent and adventurous life of the Nobel Prize-winning writer.

During his years in Key West, Hemingway wrote classics such as “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “To Have and Not to Have.”

The three-night look-alike contest takes place at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, where Hemingway often hung out with local and literary friends.

Watched closely by a jury of past winners, including 2022’s Jon Auvil of Dade City, Fla., the contestants take turns pontificating and parading across the Sloppy Joe stage.

Many are repeat suitors who bring their own sections of encouragement, and most attempt to copy the persona and appearance of “Dad” adopted by Hemingway in his later years.

The contest’s second preliminary round is scheduled for Friday, the 124th anniversary of Hemingway’s birth on July 21, and the 2023 winner is expected to be chosen Saturday evening.

Hemingway Days continues through Sunday with events such as a quirky parody of “Running of the Bulls,” a street fair and the Key West Marlin Tournament that harkens back to the author’s passion for fishing in the Florida Keys.

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