There’s a new “Papa” Hemingway in the island city where legendary author Ernest Hemingway lived during the 1930s. White-bearded Texan Richard Filip won the 2017 Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, a highlight of Key West’s annual Hemingway Days celebration that ends Sunday.
The 71-year-old, a retired real estate franchise owner, triumphed over 152 other entrants in the contest’s final round Saturday night.
As well as appearance, Filip said he shared several other traits with the late author.
“With Ernest Hemingway, I feel like he’s my brother from another mother,” said Filip, who won on his seventh attempt. “I fish a lot, I hunt a lot … I drink a lot, then I drink a little more, and then I drink a little more!”
He also shares Hemingway’s enjoyment of boating — even piloting a replica of Ernest’s beloved fishing boat Pilar on a three-day cruise from Miami to Key West with supporters before the contest.
“Sailing into Key West was just incredible. I just looked around and thought, these are the waters that Ernest traveled in — and it was incredible to duplicate that and feel like I was a part of his life,” said Filip.
Hemingway Days salutes the vigorous lifestyle and literary legacy of the Nobel Prize-winning author, who wrote enduring classics including “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “To Have and Have Not” while living in Key West.
Look-Alike Contest entrants were judged by past winners at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, the Duval Street saloon where Hemingway and his cohorts frequently gathered.
Crowds of spectators cheered enthusiastically for their favorites as they paraded onstage at the bar. Most tried to emulate the author in his later-years “Papa” persona, though one impersonated a dark-haired “young Hemingway.”
Saturday night’s finalists included repeat contender Michael Groover of Savannah, Ga., whose wife is celebrity chef Paula Deen. Deen sat in the audience applauding her husband.
Other Hemingway Days events included an offbeat “Running of the Bulls,” literary readings, the three-day Key West Marlin Tournament and a “birthday” commemoration on July 21, the 118th anniversary of “Papa’s” birth.