Happy New Fake Hemingway Crowned in Key West

The importance of being Ernest is obvious for a 64-year-old Vero Beach man who finally triumphs in his 12th attempt

Fortunately, winning the title doesn't mean 64-year-old Charles Bicht has take a time machine to Idaho in 1961 and kill himself.

But being chosen this year's best Ernest Hemingway look-alike on Key West does come with license for an extra libation or three, which is pretty convenient. 

“I enjoy women, I fish and I drink," said the Vero Beach resident, "but I don’t write."

Bicht won the good-natured yet bizzarely prestigious annual contest on his 12th try, accompanied by a daughter who was married at the literary giant's former home on the island and has cheered him through each and every attempt.

He finally managed to beat out 123 other white-bearded, well-fed gentlemen Saturday night on top of the bar at Sloppy Joe's, Hemingway's favorite place to have more than have not (see what we did there?).  

The twinsy competition is held annually during Key West's Hemingway Days Festival, a celebratory nod to its famous former resident that includes a short story competition directed by granddaughter Lorian Hemingway, a wacky “Running of the Bulls,” a one-man play chronicling his life and adventures, and the $250,000 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament.

The winner is always chosen on the day of Hemingway's birth; this year, Bicht won on the 108th anniversary, selected by a panel of former Papas.

A winner of both the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes, Hemingway wrote some of his best novels while wintering on Key West in the 1930's, usually spending his afternoons fishing and boozing it up with locals. He took his own life in Idaho at 61 after years of ill health, but his presence has never grown smaller on the island determined to remember him in the wackiest ways possible.

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