KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Fans of adventurous living and writing can celebrate the legacy of Ernest Hemingway now through Sunday, July 24. The 36th annual Hemingway Days salutes the vigorous Key West lifestyle and literary mastery of the author who lived and wrote on the island for most of the 1930s.
Festival highlights include a look-alike contest for Hemingway imitators, prose and poetry readings and a three-day marlin tournament that pays tribute to Ernest's passion for deep-sea angling.
Some 125 burly, bearded contestants are expected to compete in the "Papa" Hemingway Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joe's Bar, 201 Duval St. Preliminary rounds are set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 21 and 22, with finalists facing off at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23. Visit sloppyjoes.com for contest registration and information.
Held in conjunction with the festival is the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition coordinated by Ernest's granddaughter, author Lorian Hemingway. Each year the contest awards $2,500 to emerging writers. For information visit shortstorycompetition.com.
The event's other literary highlights include "Voices, Places, Inspirations," an evening of readings beginning at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 20, at the Key West Woman's Club, 319 Duval St. At 5 p.m. Friday, July 22, fans of fine writing can discover Hemingway's little-known poetry in a Key West Poetry Guild reading at the Blue Heaven restaurant, 729 Thomas St.
Anglers can emulate "Papa's" devotion to deep-sea fishing during the Bacardi Oakheart Key West Marlin Tournament, set for Wednesday through Saturday, July 20-23. Participants can pursue marlin and spearfish, sailfish, tuna, dolphin fish and wahoo while competing for $50,000 in guaranteed cash prizes. For information and registration, visit keywestmarlin.com.
Other festival attractions include a 5k sunset run and paddleboard race, museum exhibits and a reception honoring Key West literary legends, a street fair on the island's Duval Street, the offbeat "Running of the Bulls" and a birthday cake commemorating the 117th anniversary of "Papa's" July 21 birth.
Hemingway Days information: hemingwaydays.net
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
Festival attractions include the offbeat "Running of the Bulls". Image: Andy Newman
Hemingway fans can visit the author’s former Key West home at 907 Whitehead St., now a museum open daily for tours. Image: Rob O'Neal