KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Each July, the island where Ernest Hemingway lived throughout the 1930s welcomes approximately 125 stocky, white-bearded aspiring “Ernests” to compete in Sloppy Joe’s “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest.
Set for Thursday through Saturday, July 21-23, the contest takes place at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, 201 Duval St., where Ernest Hemingway often enjoyed cocktails with cohorts. The event is a highlight of the annual Hemingway Days celebration of the legendary author’s literary prowess and colorful lifestyle.
Look-alike contestants come from around the United States and international locales to vie for the title of “Papa.” Most dress in khaki safari garb or wool fishermen’s sweaters reminiscent of Ernest’s attire.
Preliminary rounds are set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 21 and 22, with the finals at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Previous contest winners, including 2010’s Charles Bicht of Vero Beach, Fla., and honorary judge Cristen Hemingway Jaynes are to judge the Hemingway hopefuls.
Before Thursday’s preliminary round, the “Papas” are to celebrate the 112th anniversary of Hemingway’s July 21 birth and announce the recipients of the Hemingway Look-Alike Society’s scholarships.
Other look-alike highlights include Sloppy Joe’s “Running of the Bulls,” inspired by the world-renowned event in Pamplona, Spain, but featuring man-made bulls. Preceded by a photo opportunity for “Papa-razzi” at noon, the extravaganza begins at 1 p.m. Saturday outside Sloppy Joe’s.
In addition, the bearded brethren stage a Wednesday evening welcome party for contestants and fans at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort, 3990 S. Roosevelt Blvd., and a catch-and release “fish-off” with traditional handlines Friday, July 22, dockside at the Conch Republic Seafood Co. at 631 Greene St.
Many ”Papas” also prove their strength in Sloppy Joe’s annual arm-wrestling championship. Registration is set for noon Sunday, July 24, with the contest following at 12:30 p.m.
Key West visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY