KEY WEST – A white-bearded Arizona restaurateur has won Key West’s annual “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest on his sixth attempt.
Wally Collins of Phoenix triumphed over 130 other entrants, including his son Matt Collins, late Saturday night at Sloppy Joe’s Bar. The bar was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway during the 1930s.
Competitors in sportsman’s attire paraded before a judging panel of former winners during two preliminary rounds and the finals, trying to prove their resemblance to the real Hemingway.
Other look-alike entrants included celebrity chef Paula Deen’s husband, Michael Groover of Savannah, Georgia.
Collins, who also has researched the role concussions may have played in Hemingway’s 1961 suicide, said he admired Hemingway’s ideals and taste for adventure.
“I didn’t have as many wives as he had, and I have a lot more children and grandchildren, but there are a lot of things that he stood for that I really like,” Collins said.
The contest is a highlight of the annual Hemingway Days celebration honoring the Nobel Prize-winning author who lived and wrote in Key West from 1931 until late 1939. Hemingway’s home in the city, where he wrote the novels “To Have and Have Not” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” is now a museum.
The festival also includes a short story competition directed by Ernest’s granddaughter, Lorian Hemingway, and a spoof on the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. It ends Sunday with an arm wrestling contest at Sloppy Joe’s.