KEY WEST — A Palm Harbor software developer who studied Ernest Hemingway's personality, as well as his signature white-bearded appearance, won a look-alike contest Saturday night that highlighted this island's annual celebration of the famous author.
Stephen Terry, 56, beat 125 other entrants in the "Papa" Hemingway look-alike contest, including the husband of embattled celebrity chef 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, Paula 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.
The festival concluded Sunday with an arm-wrestling challenge held on the 114th anniversary of Hemingway's birth.