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Papa Hemingway rides again in Key West contest

Papa Hemingway rides again in Key West contest
Three past winners of the Key West Papa Hemingway look-alike contest attend a conference in Havana in June. (Alejandro Ernesto / EPA)

Of all the ways to keep a writer's memory alive, the one held at Sloppy Joe's bar in Key West, Fla., is certainly among the best: it's the annual Hemingway Look-Alike contest.

In honor of Ernest Hemingway's nickname, the winner is crowned "Papa" for a year.

On Thursday, the three-day event begins. There are qualifying rounds. There is an arm-wrestling contest. There is a Pamplona-inspired march through town dubbed the "running" (more like walking) of the "bulls" (the Hemingway look-alikes).

And of course, in honor of the notoriously hard-drinking author, liquor is served.

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Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954. While his abrupt, direct writing style has gone in and out of fashion, many of his works remain in the American canon: "A Farewell to Arms," "The Sun Also Rises," "For Whom the Bell Tolls," "The Old Man and the Sea." The posthumously published memoir "A Movable Feast" chronicled his time in Paris and Europe during the Jazz Age, when he palled around with F. Scott Fitzgerald and spent time with Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, John Dos Passos and more.

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In the 1950s, the bearded, ruddy Hemingway was one of America's most recognizable authors. It's him in that incarnation that is celebrated in the look-alike contest, now in its 33rd year.

Key West's annual Hemingway Days celebration, of which the look-alike contest is a main event, ends on Sunday, the 114th anniversary of Hemingway's birth.

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