Hemingway Hopefuls to Compete July 21-23 in Famed Key West Contest

Sloppy Joe's in Key West, Florida, is hosting its annual Hemingway Look-Alike Contest from July 21-23. Up to 150 contestants from around the world will compete for the title of "Papa," a nickname adopted by the author.

The contest is a highlight of the annual Hemingway Days celebration of the literary legend’s writing talent and exuberant Key West lifestyle. Look-alike contestants come from around the United States and other countries to vie for the title of “Papa,” a nickname adopted by the author. Many compete in khaki safari attire or heavy turtleneck sweaters — even in the Key West summer — to emulate his signature garb.

Spectators can cheer for their favorite contenders during preliminary rounds set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 21 and 22, and the finals at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23. The Hemingway hopefuls are to be judged by previous contest winners.

Before Thursday’s preliminary round, the “Papas” are to celebrate the 123rd anniversary of Ernest’s July 21 birth and announce the recipients of the Hemingway Look-Alike Society’s scholarships for Florida Keys students. A "meet and greet" is also scheduled for Wednesday evening at Sloppy Joe's.

In addition, the look-alikes will 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 manmade mock bulls and begins at 1 p.m. Saturday outside Sloppy Joe’s.

While living in Key West, Hemingway wrote literary classics including “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “To Have and Have Not,” a novel set primarily in the island city.