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Hemingway Days to Celebrate Legendary Writer’s Work and Key West Life

Keys History
This Keys History story spotlights an historically focused attraction, event, person or place that enriches the Florida Keys

KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Fans of adventurous living and masterful writing can celebrate the legacy of Ernest Hemingway Tuesday through Sunday, July 19-24. The annual Hemingway Days salutes the vigorous Key West lifestyle, sporting pursuits and creative talent of the author who lived and wrote on the island for most of the 1930s. 

Festival highlights include a look-alike contest for Hemingway hopefuls, literary readings and a three-day marlin tournament that pays tribute to Ernest’s passion for deep-sea angling.

As many as 150 burly, bearded contestants are expected to compete in the annual 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, with the winners to be announced — and the top story given its first public reading — during Hemingway Days. Visit shortstorycompetition.com for contest details.

Additional events for fans of fine writing include the acclaimed Key West Poetry Guild’s annual showcase of Hemingway’s little-known poetry. 

The festival also features two “museum days” where visitors can view a unique Hemingway exhibit at Key West’s Custom House Museum, 281 Front St., and 59 original pen-and-ink drawings by famed marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey that provide a visual narrative to the author's novel, “The Old Man and the Sea.” 

Anglers can emulate “Papa’s” devotion to deep-sea fishing during the Perry Hotel & Marina 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 

Among other festival attractions are Sloppy Joe’s offbeat “Running of the Bulls,” a commemoration (with cake!) on the 123rd anniversary of Hemingway’s July 21 birth, a street fair along the Duval Street blocks he once walked and a 5k run and paddleboard race that recall his sporting lifestyle. 

Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote in Key West from 1931 until late 1939, penning literary classics including “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “To Have and Have Not” — the latter set primarily in the island city he called home.

As many as 150 burly, bearded contestants are expected to compete in the annual Hemingway® Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joe’s Bar.

As many as 150 burly, bearded contestants are expected to compete in the annual Hemingway® Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joe’s Bar.

Among other festival attractions are Sloppy Joe’s offbeat “Running of the Bulls,” a commemoration (with cake!) on the 123rd anniversary of Hemingway’s July 21 birth.

Among other festival attractions are Sloppy Joe’s offbeat “Running of the Bulls,” a commemoration (with cake!) on the 123rd anniversary of Hemingway’s July 21 birth.

The author lived and wrote on the island of Key West for most of the 1930s.

The author lived and wrote on the island of Key West for most of the 1930s.

This article was updated on June 15, 2022 at 3:54 PM
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