The Importance of Being (Or At Least Resembling) Ernest Hemingway

by  Katie Przybylski | Jun 10, 2009
Ernest Hemingway lookalike competition at Sloppy Joe's in Key West
Ernest Hemingway lookalike competition at Sloppy Joe's in Key West / Photo courtesy of the bar

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July 21 marks the late Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway's 110th birthday, and with that, a gaggle of bleach-bearded men are coming out of the woodwork to participate in Hemingway look-alike contests on at least two continents.

In Key West, historic Sloppy Joe’s Bar (a popular haunt of Hemingway’s back in the 1930s) holds an annual "Papa" Hemingway Look-Alike Contest from July 23-25 during the city's annual Hemingway Days festival. Look-alikes decked in khaki safari outfits and fisherman’s sweaters (Hemingway was an avid sportsman) flock to Sloppy Joe’s to test their looks, and compete in an Ernest fish-off, arm wrestling competition, and a zany mock "running of the bulls"—a credit to Hemingway’s love for bullfighting.

If fake bulls aren’t your thing, head to Pamplona in Navarre, Spain, setting for the bullfighting scenes in The Sun Also Rises. From July 2-5, Pamplona hosts the First International Ernest Hemingway Look-Alike and Impersonators Contest in the middle of the vibrant Fiesta of San Fermin (fireworks, sports, dancing, booze, and bulls abound). Contestants receive a free flight to Pamplona and the winner receives $2,000.  You must e-mail a registration form, color photos, and a 25-second video by June 15th to Keep in mind, the judges evaluate your Hemingway character as well—so practice that piercing gaze, speak in spare but spectacular sentences, indulge in a little drink, and start believing that “the world is a fine place and worth the fighting for” (famous quote from For Whom the Bell Tolls. Duh).

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