Key West Ernest Hemingway Look-A-Like Contest, July 21 – 23

For thirty years Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West has hosted the Ernest Hemingway Look-A-Like Contest, which takes place during Key West’s Hemingway Days Festival (July 19 – 23). Key West’s most famous resident writer, Ernest Hemingway, lived on the island from 1928 to 1940. Between afternoon fishing expeditions and all-night bar expeditions he produced some of his best known work, including A Farewell to Arms and To Have and Have Not. In 2007, to celebrate our 50th birthdays, Doug Davidson, Gary Mayer, and I spent a long weekend attending the festival. I couldn’t talk Doug and Gary into entering the contest, but it had been on my to-do-before-I-die list since the contest began back in 1981. It’s not something you can just decide to do at the last minute. There’s a registration process, forms to fill out, plus, if you don’t already have one you need to grow a beard. It is loads of fun, a rowdy event, and somewhat bizarre to see all these old guys, most of which who actually do look like Ernest Hemingway, all in one place. Many of them come back every year. If my memory serves me correctly (and it sometimes does not) there were about seventy entrants the year I entered. By at least twenty years I was the youngest. All contestants have to go on stage and give a little introduction speech. I heard a few comments (in good-natured jest) that perhaps I should consider coming back when I’m a little grayer, a little fatter, and a lot older. I assured them that I would. What I refrained from telling them was that, in fact, Ernest Hemingway was in his 30’s during most of his Key West tenure. When he left in 1940 he was only 41 years old. Doug took this photo of me with a couple other contestants (whose names I don’t recall). The guy in the middle looks somewhat like my cousin Kent Corral, but its not. I have told Kent he should enter—he could easily pass for Hemingway.

Bruce Hunt

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