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AP Florida

Palm Harbor man wins Hemingway look-alike contest


Published:   |   Updated: July 21, 2013 at 04:24 PM

KEY WEST - A Pinellas County software developer who studied Ernest Hemingway's personality, as well as his signature white-bearded appearance, won a look-alike contest Saturday that highlighted this island's annual celebration of the famous author.

Stephen Terry, 56, of Palm Harbor, beat 125 other entrants in the "Papa" Hemingway look-alike contest, including the husband of embattled celebrity cook Paula Deen. The announcement followed two preliminary rounds and Saturday evening's finals on the island where the literary giant lived throughout the 1930s.

"I read Hemingway before, but in being part of the contest I've done a lot more research about him and found we really have a number of things in common," said Terry, who won on his seventh attempt.

Terry said he shares the author's fondness for fishing and enjoys journal writing, but lacks Hemingway's eloquence.

"He lived life to the fullest, and that's what I hope to do as well," Terry said. "I enjoy adventure; I like to get out of my comfort zone."

Aspiring "Ernests," mostly in sportsman's attire, paraded before a judging panel of former winners at Sloppy Joe's Bar, a watering hole frequented by the late author. As crowds cheered their favorites, several entrants performed song parodies designed to demonstrate their worthiness to win.

Saturday night's competitors included Michael Groover, Deen's husband. Recently denounced after acknowledging her past use of racial slurs, Deen did not attend this year's contest. She was present when Groover competed in 2012.

"Papa Hemingway was all about adventure," Groover said to a packed house at Sloppy Joe's. "My life lately has been pretty adventurous.

"She's here in spirit," he said later of Deen. "She would have loved to have been here to support me."

When he lived in Key West, Hemingway wrote such classics as "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 Hemingway impersonators 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 festival concluded today with an arm wrestling challenge held on the 114th anniversary of Hemingway's birth.

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