KEY WEST (AP) — A 56-year-old software developer from Florida’s west coast is this year’s winner of the Ernest “Papa” Hemingway look-alike contest.
Stephen Terry of Palm Harbor studied Hemingway’s personality and motivations, as well as his appearance, to triumph over 125 other entrants in the three-round contest that ended late Saturday.
It was Terry’s seventh attempt.
“It has become an obsession over the past few years in researching Hemingway, learning more about what motivated him, what drove him to do some of the things that he did,” said Terry.
The annual Hemingway Days festivities salute the literary giant who lived and wrote in Key West throughout the 1930s.
Terry said he began reading Hemingway’s work in high school, enjoys journal writing, and shares the author’s enjoyment of adventure and fishing.
“I’ve actually gone marlin fishing — not that I caught anything, but I do try,” he said.
Look-Alike Contest entrants were judged by past winners at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a watering hole frequented by Hemingway. Crowds of spectators roared applause for their favorites as they paraded onstage and took turns speaking. Some even performed song parodies pleading for victory.
Saturday night’s contestants included Michael Groover of Savannah, Ga., the husband of television food personality Paula Deen. Recently denounced for the past use a racial term, Deen was present when Groover competed in 2012, but did not attend this year’s contest.
“She’s here in spirit,” Groover said of Deen. “She would have loved to have been here to support me.”
During his Key West years, Ernest Hemingway wrote classics including “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Death in the Afternoon” and “To Have and Have Not.”
Hemingway Days events included an offbeat “Running of the Bulls” with look-alikes pushing fake bulls on Key West streets, literary readings, a marlin tournament and a short story competition directed by author and Hemingway granddaughter Lorian Hemingway.
The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.