The 35th Annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest

by |July 25, 2015

They love it when you call them Big Papa.

Wally Collins is congratulated after winning the 2014 Papa title.

Wally Collins wins the 2014 Papa title.

Around this time every year Key West is set upon by mature, heavy-set men with full beards in khakis.

Why?

It’s time for the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest!

Hemingway lived in Key West during the 1930s and local bar Sloppy Joe’s, where Hemingway would often be found holding up the bar, has been holding the contest for an incredible 35 years. Around 125 entrants are expected to jostle for ‘The Papa’.

Sloppy Joe’s says it is “looking for mature, heavy-set men with a full beard”, but adds that “several young lookalikes have participated, and some have actually made it to the finals.”

It warns contestants: “Know your competition. The lookalikes arrive in Hemingway garb. Some wear safari outfits, khakis, and even the excruciatingly hot fisherman’s woollen turtleneck sweater. Some bring their own cheering squad. Most contestants admit (confidentially) that they may never win, but return year after year for the fellowship.”

The lookalike competition is just one part of a week long Papa-palooza that rains down upon at Key West every year, with Marlin fishing and short story competitions, readings, book signings and a “running of the bulls” event.

Click here for all things Hemingway

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About the Contributor

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

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