The bearded brotherhood of Hemingway Look-Alike Contest winners gained a new member July 25 in Key West, home of legendary author Ernest Hemingway for most of the 1930s. Zach Taylor, a 63-year-old white-bearded Georgia man, triumphed over 136 other entrants to win the contest that highlights the island city’s annual Hemingway Days celebration.
Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote in Key West for most of the 1930s, and the annual Hemingway Days celebrates his talent and exuberant lifestyle. Events include poetry readings, a walking tour of Hemingway sites, a museum exhibit, a scholar’s presentation and the first reading of the Lorian Hemingway Short Story competition’s winning entry.
Fans and friends of the Florida Keys’ Conch Republic can celebrate the irreverent “nation’s” 39th birthday with activities including a pirate adventure, traditional shrimp boil, sunset boat parade, “wearable art” fashion show, sailing excursions and a gourmet dinner and absinthe tasting. The Conch Republic Independence Celebration is scheduled Friday through Sunday, April 16-25.
History fans who visit Key West’s Harry S. Truman Little White House, Florida’s only presidential museum, can do more than explore the home where Truman spent nearly six months of his 1945-1953 presidency. They can also choose to ride around the island city in a limousine he used during his term in office.
On Jan. 22, 1912, when Ruby Whitlock was eight years old, she watched the arrival of the first train that ever traveled down the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad tracks from mainland Florida to Key West. The railroad stretched over 100 miles out into open water in a fantastic ribbon of bridges and track.
Internationally renowned playwright Tennessee Williams lived in Key West for more than 30 years, writing classic dramas including “Night of the Iguana.” Today, fans of his groundbreaking plays can honor his legacy and love for his island lifestyle during the annual Tennessee Williams Birthday Celebration conceived by longtime Key West resident Dennis Beaver.
The Key West Art Center, whose origins date back to the 1930s, is renowned as the oldest artists’ membership organization in the Florida Keys. Its picturesque Front Street gallery features the work of more than 50 artists from the Keys, with a visual tapestry of color and creativity awaiting everyone who ventures inside.
Ever since Ernest Hemingway penned literary classics while living in 1930s Key West, the island has been a haven and an inspiration for writers. Now Key West visitors can boost their own creativity with a chance to write in the iconic author’s private studio — and explore his former Whitehead Street home and grounds.
As executive director of the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden, former ballet danseur Misha McRAE is preparing to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the 15-acre subtropical treasure. Described as the continental United States’ only frost-free tropical forest and botanical garden, the enchanted spot has been his passion since the late 1990s.
Until a few years ago, the Lower Keys were home to a peculiar landmark: a shingled tower rising behind the Sugarloaf Lodge, located at mile marker 17 on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. Tall and weather-beaten, looming over its surroundings, it was a strange monument to an innovative idea hatched in bygone days.