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Persistence pays off for Hemingway imitator

It took an Ohio man four tries to win the "Papa" Hemingway Look-Alike Contest.

Wearing a heavy, ivory-colored wool sweater Saturday at the noisy Sloppy Joe's Bar _ a favorite watering hole of the author, who lived in Key West from 1928 to 1940 _ the 56-year-old Newark, Ohio, man won the contest. The 10-day Hemingway Days celebration ended Sunday.

Roger Hegemier won it on the 97th anniversary of the author's birth. He was among 20 finalists who were culled from a record-breaking field of 127 Hemingway wanna-bes.

Past look-alike winners and members of the Hemingway family served on the 11-person panel of judges.

"You buy this . . . old wool sweater," said Hegemier, still wearing the garment, out of place in temperatures in the upper 80s. "Every year (you compete), you learn a little more. You just hang in there and keep on trying."

For his efforts, Hegemier won several gifts, including two cases of beer, a $100 bar tab at Sloppy Joe's, accommodations during the 1997 Hemingway Days Festival and a basket of hot stuff from "Peppers of Key West."

Hemingway, who committed suicide in 1961, moved to Key West from Paris with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer.

He did his writing between frequent fishing expeditions and visits to Sloppy Joe's.

Some of his greatest works include A Farewell to Arms, To Have and Have Not, Green Hills of Africa, and For Whom the Bell Tolls.