When he arrived in Key West on a steamship in 1928, Ernest Hemingway had written two small novels -- The Sun Also Rises and Men Without Women -- but was more like the Turtle of the Expatriate Entourage. By the time he ran off to Havana in 1939, he was a living legend known (like Madonna and Prince) by just one name: Papa. Key Wests identity was forever cemented with his. That 80-year-old bond is reinforced every summer during the annual Hemingway Days Festival, held this year July 17 through 22.
A marlin fishing tournament runs from Wednesday to Saturday. Hemingways granddaughter Lorian hosts a short-story competition that announces its winner Friday night. By far the most popular event is Sloppy Joes look-alike contest, which begins preliminary rounds tonight and culminates Saturday night. Strangely most contestants opt for the Hemingway who never lived in Key West -- the gray-bearded sage -- instead of the hulking, dark-haired boxer sporting a Magnum P.I. mustache. The festival ends Sunday with an arm-wrestling contest. For entry forms, visit www.sloppyjoes.com, and check out www.fla-keys.com for general information.