Hemingway lookalikes flock to Key West for annual competition

Paula Deen's husband among competition that pays tribute to author

A Hemingway lookalike takes the stage at Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West. (Andy Newman)

KEY WEST, Fla. – More than 100 white-bearded Ernest Hemingway lookalikes have gathered in Key West to compete in an annual competition that has become highlight of the city's Hemingway Days.

Now in its 36th year, the three-night Papa Look-Alike Content began Thursday at Sloppy Joe's Bar, where the one-time Key West resident and author often drank with friends.

Thursday's entrants included repeat contender Michael Groover, husband of celebrity chef Paula Deen. Groover was named a semifinalist, and Deen traveled from Savannah, Georgia, to cheer him on.

A panel of former winners served as judges for the competition.

Before the preliminary round, the judges celebrated the 117th anniversary of the author's July 21 birthday with a Sloppy Joe's cake. Hemingway's face adorns the bar's logo.

The contest's second preliminary round is set for Friday evening, and the 2016 "Papa" will be crowned Saturday night.

Hemingway penned "For Whom the Bell Tolls" while living in Key West. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in 1961.

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