Watch out for Papa-razzi

Once a year, they gallop along U.S. 1 in Key West like a herd of white horses fleeing the 21st Century. You know them by their beards — one long cirrus cloud of chin that snakes down Duval Street and enters Sloppy Joe’s Bar and Grill (201 Duval St., Key West) for the 29th annual “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, the signature event of the six-day Hemingway Days Festival.

The hard-core Hems will be down Tuesday or Wednesday, but for the casual spectator, the festival really gets going this Friday. At 3 p.m., the look-alikes will have a fishing contest, with traditional hand lines, off the dock of the Conch Republic Seafood Co. (631 Greene St., Key West), followed by the day’s weigh-in for the Key West Marlin Tournament at 4 p.m. Then at 6:30, the second round of the Look-Alike competition will begin at Sloppy Joe’s. Entrance is free, but get there early for a place near the stage. Many of the contestants have massive cheering sections, and you’ll want to be close enough to hear Papa’s playful banter.

For those interested in the literary Hem, duck out of the contest early and walk over to Casa Antigua (314 Simonton St., Key West) for the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition winners’ announcement and reception at 8 p.m. The annual contest always draws serious literary talent. Admission is free.

If you end up staying the weekend, the festivities continue Saturday and Sunday. Visit hemingwaydays.net for a full schedule.
July 21-26, 3 p.m., 2009

 
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