About 135 bearded men who look uncannily like Ernest Hemingway have converged on Key West, the author’s home during the 1930s, to compete in the Hemingway Look-Alike Contest that began Thursday night.
The look-alike challenge is a highlight of the island’s Hemingway Days festival, saluting the literary talent and adventurous life of the legendary author. During his Key West years, Hemingway penned classics including “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “To Have and Have Not.”
The three-night competition takes place at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, where Ernest often shared cocktails and camaraderie with friends.
Thursday’s entrants included Michael Bull of Perth, Australia. Closely observed by the judging panel of former winners including 2018’s Michael Groover, Bull and other hopefuls took turns parading across Sloppy Joe’s stage.
Many look-alikes are repeat contenders who bring their own cheering sections, and most attempt to copy the “Papa” persona and appearance adopted by Hemingway in his later years.
The contest’s second preliminary round is set for Friday and the 2019 winner is to be chosen Saturday night.
Hemingway Days continues through Sunday, the 120th anniversary of Ernest’s July 21 birth. Events include a quirky “Running of the Bulls” spoof, literary readings and the Key West Marlin Tournament that recalls Hemingway’s passion for Florida Keys fishing.