Over 125 'Ernests' to Compete in Key West's Annual Hemingway Look-Alike Contest
June 16, 2023 • KW Concierge
Key West, Florida Keys, is preparing to host its 42nd annual Hemingway Look-Alike Contest as part of the Hemingway Days festival. This year, more than 125 stout, bearded men are expected to emulate the world-renowned author's appearance and persona. Ernest Hemingway, a significant figure in American literature, had called Key West home for a significant part of the 1930s.
The competitors, affectionately referred to as "Ernests," will converge on Sloppy Joe's Bar, a known hangout for Hemingway during his time on the island. The bar, located at 201 Duval St., will host nightly rounds of the contest from Thursday to Saturday, July 20-22.
Contestants come from all around the United States to participate. Their wardrobe often reflects the author's style, with safari gear or wool turtleneck sweaters common choices, while they attempt to imitate the "Papa" persona that Hemingway adopted in his later years.
Preliminary rounds of the contest are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on July 20 and 21. The grand finale will take place at the same time on Saturday. Judging the competition will be a panel of former winners, including Jon Auvil, who clinched the title of "Papa" on his eighth try in 2022.
The Hemingway Look-Alike Contest is a major part of the annual Hemingway Days celebration, a festival that pays tribute to the author's writing talent, sporting pursuits, and vibrant lifestyle. However, the competition is not the only event to look forward to:
The Sloppy Joe's "Running of the Bulls," a humorous twist on the famous event in Pamplona, Spain, will also feature the "Papa" look-alikes. Unlike its Spanish counterpart, this is more of a parade with man-made bulls on wheels. This unique event will commence at 1 p.m. on Saturday, with a photo opportunity for "Papa-razzi" at noon.
Additional events include a Wednesday evening "meet and greet" for contestants and fans to interact with previous winners, a dockside "fish-off" for the "Ernests," and a celebration of the 124th anniversary of Hemingway's birth on July 21.
The look-alikes will also be announcing the recipients of the Hemingway Look-Alike Society’s annual scholarships for Florida Keys students.
Hemingway, while living in Key West in the 1930s, penned several of his famous works, including "For Whom the Bell Tolls," "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," and "To Have and Have Not." Today, his legacy is celebrated in his former home through these lively events and the annual Hemingway Days festival.
Event information: keywesttourist.com/festivals-events/hemingway-days/