By Team

KEY WEST, Fla. (CBSMiami/FKNB) – A 63-year-old white-bearded Georgia man has won the Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, a highlight of Key West’s annual Hemingway Days salute to author Ernest Hemingway that ends Sunday.

Zach Taylor, an electrical and plumbing supply company owner from Ambrose, triumphed over 136 other entrants in the final round of the contest that concluded late Saturday after a three-way tie. Preliminary rounds were held Thursday and Friday.

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Taylor likened the look-alike contest to a “family reunion,” particularly after the cancellation of the 2020 competition because of the coronavirus pandemic. His victory was especially meaningful since his late father-in-law Carlie Coley won in 2000.

“Hemingway has been a fixture of ours since we started coming down to the contest,” said Taylor.

Zach Taylor, center, a resident of Ambrose, Georgia, gets congratulatory kisses from Ernest Hemingway look-alikes after winning the 2021 Hemingway Look-Alike Contest late Saturday, July 24, 2021, at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Fla. At left is Joe Maxey, the 2019 winner, and at right is 2018 winner Michael Groover, the husband of celebrity chef Paula Deen. Postponed in 2020 because of COVID-19, the 2021 competition featured 137 contestants and was the cornerstone event of the annual Hemingway Days festival that honors writer Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Key West for most of the 1930s. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau)

Taylor said he shared Hemingway’s passion for fishing, hunting and the “outdoorsman” lifestyle.

“You know, everybody has read ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ and things like that, that he wrote, but coming down here, you start to see bits and pieces of a man you knew nothing about,” said Taylor after his win was announced. “I think Papa would be proud of what’s been accomplished in his name in a town he loved so well.”

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Look-Alike Contest entrants were judged by past winners at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a watering hole frequented by Hemingway, as they paraded onstage and took turns attempting to prove that they best represented the author who adopted the nickname “Papa.”

Some even sang or recited poetry as they pleaded for victory. Saturday night’s finalists included seven-time competitor David “Bat” Masterson of Daytona Beach, Florida, who accompanied a self-penned tune on the harmonica and conch shell.

Hemingway Days honors the literary legacy and vigorous lifestyle of Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Key West for most of the 1930s and produced “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “To Have and Have Not” and other classics.

Festival events included an offbeat “Running of the Bulls,” the three-day Key West Marlin Tournament and a short story competition directed by Hemingway’s author granddaughter Lorian Hemingway.

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