Annual Festival Centered Around Birthday Of ‘Papa’ Won’t Happen This Year
But not this year; the city of Key West has canceled all sanctioned events for 2020, and this included Hemingway Days, which was set for July 21-26.
Dates for the 2021 event have been set for Jul y22-24. Hemingway’s birthday is July 21.
This is one of Key West’s quirky fun events, along with FantasyFest and Meeting of the Minds in November (both of which have also been canceled; click here for the full story). The Hemingway festival attracts thousands of Hemingway fans, look-alikes and onlookers.
True to the event’s namesake – Hemingway spent his winters in Key West during the 1930s – there are several interesting events associated with the festival.
But more than anything, it’s where fun-loving folks descend on the independent-minded area to get a little crazy and eccentric, Hemingway style. In fact, so many of them dress like “Papa,” it seems the entire town is one big safari.
Sloppy Joe’s Bar Hosts Look-Alike Contest
Not surprisingly, the headquarters for much of the revelry is Sloppy Joe’s, which happened to be the real Hemingway’s favorite watering hole.
The key event is the “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest. Preliminary rounds are Thursday and Friday at 6:30 p.m., with the finals taking place Saturday at 6:30 p.m. More than 125 “Hemmingways” traditionally enter the contest.
On Saturday, the “Running of the Bulls” is a quirky take-off on Pamplona’s famous run that was an annual Hemingway adventure. It takes place outside the bar at 1 p.m. At noon, the look-alikes will be on hand for “Photos with Papa.”
Afterward, they will serve a birthday cake in a slightly belated celebration of Hemingway’s birthday, which is July 21. Hemingway would be 118 this year.
On the cultural side, the festival’s foremost literary event is the announcement of the winners of the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, which awards $2,000 annually to emerging fiction writers. Author Lorian Hemingway, the writer’s granddaughter whose books include the critically acclaimed memoir “Walk on Water,” is to introduce the first-place story reception on Friday. The awards gala traditionally takes place at 8 p.m., at Casa Antigua (314 Simonton St.), where Ernest Hemingway stayed during his first visit to Key West in 1928.
Other literary highlights include “Voices, Places, Inspirations,” writers’ readings and presentations which are scheduled at 8 p.m., Wednesday, at Wyland Galleries (623 Duval St.).
There is also a one-man play about the novelist, “Hemingway on Stage” by actor and playwright Brian Gordon Sinclair. Based on his extensive research into Hemingway’s life, Sinclair’s performance takes place Thursday at at the Red Barn Theater (319 Duval St., 8 p.m.). A second show is set for Friday at 11:30 a.m., in honor of late Sloppy Joe’s manager emeritus Jean Klausing.
Along with attending bullfights and going on safaris, one of Hemingway’s favorite passions was fishing. And while no one is going out on a small boat with “The Old Man and the Sea,” there is a deep-sea fishing tournament, as well.
It’s the Key West Marlin Tournament, Wednesday through Saturday, July 19-22. Participating anglers can pursue marlin, tuna, dolphin fish and wahoo while competing for $50,000 in guaranteed cash prizes. Among the social events for tournament registrants are an island-style pig roast, dockside fish fry and awards banquet.
Other festival fun includes Saturday’s Hemingway Days Caribbean Street Fair on Duval Street and Saturday night’s 5k sunset run through Old Town Key West.
Sunday’s schedule features a sidewalk art show outside the legendary Green Parrot Bar and Sloppy Joe’s Arm Wrestling Contest, always a favorite part of the festival.
Attendees also can view an exhibition of rare Hemingway memorabilia at the Key West Museum of Art & History, 281 Front St., and tour “Papa’s” former Key West home, now the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, 907 Whitehead St.
Additional festival information is available at: www.hemingwaydays.net.