Talk of the Town - July 2019
- Story by Lisa Monti, photos by Lionel Haynes, Jr.
This year’s food- and fun-filled version of the Hemingway Festival will bring 1920s Paris to the Waveland Civic Center, complete with French cuisine and period fashion in a bistro setting to honor the writer’s life and literature.
The celebration July 19-20 also features a literary contest, live music, an art auction and the No Bull Fun Run. The annual festival benefits the Ground Zero Hurricane Museum.
The adults-only Patron Party kicks off the celebration on Friday, and this year the party comes with a twist. “We’ve always had the men’s Hemingway lookalike contest, but this year we’re having a Best Dressed Couple Contest to involve the ladies,” said Donna Martin, one of the festival organizers.
"And since we’re going to Paris, we’re encouraging contestants to wear their best Great Gatsby clothes.”
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The Paris café setting also will feature a four-course “Moveable Feast” along with libations paired with each course. The menu is a secret, but everything will be French and expertly prepared by the Rum Kitchen. Chef Chappy and Starr Chapman are original sponsors of the Hemingway Festival, and it was their idea for the museum’s main fundraiser and to draw attention to the Coleman Avenue downtown district. Said Starr, “We invite everyone to ‘Live the full life.’”
A special part of Friday evening will be a live auction. “You can’t go to Paris and not have art,” Donna said. New Orleans auctioneer Sam Bell makes his Hemingway Festival debut this year, auctioning off original works of art.
One is an original acrylic of a French café scene by local artist Scharonne Herrington, who also is painting the backdrop for the bistro setting. Other pieces of artwork, framed and authenticated, were donated by a benefactor and will be revealed at the auction. Proceeds from the auction will go to the artist and the museum.
The festival fun spills over into Saturday, which is designed as a fun family day, with another new feature this year. All of the high school students in the county were invited to participate in a literary contest that required them to research and write a story set in Hemingway's Paris of the 1920s. Winners will read their original pieces starting at 4 pm, and prizes will be awarded.
On Saturday, July 20, the Before, During and After Party gets started at 6 pm with the DJ, food and beverages, then at 7 pm the festival’s signature parade will take to Coleman Avenue.
Look for decorated golf carts and representatives of the Krewe of Nereids, the Mystic Krewe of Seahorse and the ever entertaining Bay Ratz Marching Battery.
7:30 pm marks the start time of the 1.1-mile “No Bull Fun Run” featuring the New Orleans Brass Roller Derby Club, who will do their best to “tap out” the runners to eliminate them from the race. “It’s a fun run, Mississippi Gulf Coast style,” Donna said. “It’s so much fun to watch.”
Tickets for the July 19 Patron Party are $70 per person and $120 per couple. Tickets for the July 20 activities are $25 per person.
All the money for the Friday and Saturday festival events pays for special projects at the museum, which is dedicated to the resilience of the Coast’s residents and does not charge an admission fee.
This year the museum received Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage matching funds to produce a video collection of oral histories by Katrina survivors. The video will be unveiled on the August 29, anniversary of the hurricane, and a permanent exhibit will be added later this year.
“We invite everyone to come out and enjoy the festivities, which grow every year,” said Donna. “This is the only Hemingway Festival in this area, and it’s for a good cause.”