KEY WEST, Fla. — When Ernest Hemingway lived in Key West during the 1930s, he penned now-classic works that included “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and fished for giant billfish in Florida Keys waters. Fans of adventurous living and writing can celebrate his legacy Tuesday through Sunday, July 16-21, with events recalling his literary prowess and vigorous Key West lifestyle.
The 39th annual Hemingway Days festivities include a look-alike contest for aspiring “Ernests,” prose and poetry readings, the quirky “Running of the Bulls,” symposium presentations on Hemingway and his influence, a street fair on the island avenues he walked and a three-day marlin tournament that salutes his passion for angling.
Approximately 125 burly, bearded men are to compete in the annual Hemingway® Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, 201 Duval St., a frequent Key West hangout for the legendary writer. Past contest winners judge the Hemingway hopefuls during preliminary rounds set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 18 and 19, and the finals at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. For more information and registration, visit sloppyjoes.com.
The look-alikes also star in activities including Saturday’s “Running of the Bulls” spoof and an event saluting the 120th anniversary of Hemingway’s July 21 birth.
The author’s life and legacy will be examined Tuesday, July 16, during a symposium whose topics include newly found Hemingway letters that reveal an unrequited love and the little-known story that was his first attempt to portray Key West in fiction. Moderated by scholar and Hemingway expert Kirk Curnutt, the symposium begins at 6 p.m. at Key West’s Old City Hall, 510 Greene St.
Other literary events include the “Voices, Places, Inspirations” prose and poetry readings, an exhibit of rare Hemingway artifacts at the Custom House Museum and film screenings of “Hemingway: Between Key West and Cuba.” For information, visit kwahs.org.
Held in conjunction with the festival is the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition coordinated by Ernest’s granddaughter, author Lorian Hemingway. For information, visit shortstorycompetition.com.
The Hemingway Days schedule also features the Stock Island Marina Village Key West Marlin Tournament, the 5k Sunset Run/Walk and Paddleboard Race, a lively daylong street fair on Key West’s Duval Street and Sloppy Joe’s annual Arm Wrestling Championship.
Festival information: hemingwaydays.net
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY