Hemingway and the Art of Impersonation

It’s a little slice of off-beat Americana that you may not know about: for the past 34 years in Key West, Florida, Sloppy Joe’s bar hosts an annual Hemingway look-alike contest.

Yes, you read that right. Hemingway, who was a noted resident of Key West, left a powerful and enduring legacy on the island he called homed. In return, the island commemorates him each year with a “Hemingway Days” themed celebration that celebrates, among other things, the birthday of Ernest Hemingway and his accomplishments as a writer and sportsman.

This year’s event will be held Tuesday through Sunday, July 15-20, 2014. The competition starts with the first preliminary round on Thursday, July 17th, second preliminary round on Friday, July 18th, and finals on Saturday, July 19th.

From each preliminary round finalists are chosen. The 2013 competition had 125 look-alikes taking the stage with 12 contestants from Thursday night preliminary and 13 from Friday night preliminary going on to the final round.

Hemingway impersonators and aficionados come to the island from across the globe. There is even an honorary society just for Hemingway look-alikes, called — you guessed it! The Hemingway Look-Alike Society.

Happen to be vacationing in Key West in mid-July? Why not grab your bearded grandpa, and head down to Sloppy Joe’s to join in on the festivities to celebrate and honor all that is right with Ernest Hemingway.

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