Hemingway sings, wins

The Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest has a Texas man singing a Johnny Cash song to earn the title on his fifth try.

Published July 24, 2006

KEY WEST - Singing a takeoff of Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues helped a Texas commercial property developer win an Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest during a festival honoring the author that ended Sunday.

Sporting a khaki hunting outfit, white beard and bushy eyebrows, Chris Storm, 55, hit Cash-like low notes as he sang a plea for contest judges' votes during the highlight of the six-day Hemingway Days festival.

The competition drew 130 other bearded entrants who paraded across the stage at Sloppy Joe's Bar, the author's favorite watering hole.

A crowd cheered Saturday night as the judges, all past contest winners, pondered the 25 finalists' resemblance to Hemingway, who died in 1961 at age 61.

Storm, a five-time competitor, credited his victory to the enthusiasm of his 35-member cheering section and his undeniably Hemingway-esque appearance.

"Hemingway was a very complex individual, but there are a lot of good parts about him I'd like to think I have," said Storm, who resides in Amarillo. "I've hunted and fished, I've been to Africa several times and I love to write."

Storm co-wrote the lyrics to his Cash takeoff, and he has written short stories and published articles about hunting. His favorite Hemingway works are The Old Man and the Sea and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.

Many competitors in the look-alike contest return year after year, drawn by the lighthearted spirit that characterizes the festival.

"I think probably one of the big reasons they don't select me is because I have been much, much overweight," said Tom Chadwick, 79, of Vero Beach, during his 23rd try. "I'm too big for a real Hemingway look-alike."

Other Hemingway Days events included a marlin tournament, author readings, an offbeat "Running of the Bulls" and a short story competition directed by Hemingway's granddaughter, author Lorian Hemingway.