Ketchum, Idaho

I just returned this past Sunday to Texas from attending the 4th Annual Ernest Hemingway Festival in Ketchum, Idaho. Having never been north of Denver, I enjoyed the mountains and scenery of the Wood River Valley and Sun Valley. The weather was perfect for my first visit to Idaho: high 70s and low 80s during the day and high 40s and low 50s at night. I only saw clouds one day out of the five I was there. A blue sky with no distant haze was a nice change from the ozone alert skies of Big D.

The Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber and Visitors Bureau did a fine job of organizing the events, venues, and speakers for the festival. The theme of this year’s festival was “Hemingway in Cuba.” The first night’s presentation was begun with a speech by Hilary Hemingway, Ernest’s brother Leicester’s daughter, followed by her documentary entitled “Hemingway in Cuba” that she created for a Florida PBS station. The documentary was mesmerizing, especially the never before seen footage of Hemingway that his niece obtained from the Cubans. Questions and answered followed in a cozy setting of some furniture no doubt from the Hemingway Collection. The host for this part of the evening was Martin Peterson, a native Idahoan and renowned Hemingway scholar.

The next morning, the affable Mr. Peterson gave his own presentation on Hemingway and the Cuba-Idaho connection. Mr. Peterson has been on many of the trips to Cuba as part of the delegation to help in the restoration of the Finca Vigía, Hemingway’s Cuban home, and he had many interesting anecdotes to share.

After Martin Peterson’s talk, the next speaker was the editor of The Hemingway Review, Susan Beegel. She gave an extremely interesting talk on The Old Man and the Sea. She was clearly very excited about her topic and you couldn’t help but want to rush out and reread the story as soon as possible. She had slides of every type of fish poor Santiago encountered in the story. More interestingly, she related the setting and people in the book to the places and people Hemingway knew and met in his daily life in and around Havana.

The following morning, Stacey Guill, another Idahoan and Hemingway scholar, showed footage and gave a presentation on “The Spanish Earth” and Hemingway’s role and creation of the film and how it relates to For Whom the Bell Tolls. Having read and heard about this film in all my Hemingway readings, it was nice to see footage and stills from the film, but even better was to have them explained and expounded upon by a research scholar.

The last presentation of the festival was given by Sandra Spanier. She showed a vast number of slides from her many trips to Cuba during the past decade chronicling the process of how the Cubans are finally being able to restore and digitize many of the thousands of documents, pictures, etc. left by Hemingway and his wife Mary at the Finca Vigía. She also showed how the Finca Vigía itself was being restored by the Cubans and provided a visual transformation. All Americans interested in Hemingway and his writing should be grateful to all of those involved in the massive undertaking of restoration the group of Americans and Cubans have been working on for many years.

  2 comments for “Ketchum, Idaho

  1. Deb
    September 30, 2008 at 8:22 PM

    Greetings from Ketchum, Denise! It was such fun for me to share with you the photos of Finca Vigia taken by Patrick Hemingway. Your enthusiasm made my day! Thanks for your kind words about our town. We tend to be very passionate about it! If any of your readers would like more information about Patrick’s photos, I’d be delighted to share. All best wishes,

  2. September 30, 2008 at 9:27 PM

    Hi Deb! I ran out of time at lunch today but I actually was going to post a short note about my experience of seeing the photos!! I think I still will do that sometime after work today . . . It was one of the highlights of my trip! I have nothing but positive things to say about Ketchum and Sun Valley!! Sincerely, Denise

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