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2016 Hemingway Festival Celebrates Hemingway’s Cuba Connection

October 01, 2015

The University of Idaho English department’s 7th Annual Hemingway Festival will celebrate Ernest Hemingway’s love of Cuba, the recently reinvigorated U.S.-Cuba political relationship and the 65th anniversary of Hemingway’s writing of “The Old Man and the Sea.”

Ernest Hemingway left Cuba in 1960, ending a love affair with the “Pearl of the Antilles” that lasted more than 30 years. He had regarded the island as his home for the previous 20 years, and in addition to “The Old Man and the Sea,” which won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1953, Cuba figures in such novels as “To Have and Have Not” (1937) and “Islands in the Stream” (posthumously published in 1970). With the thaw underway in U.S.-Cuban relations, the UI Hemingway Festival committee thought this would be an ideal moment to celebrate with Cuban cuisine.

 “We are trying a new venue for the Hem Feast this year, the Best Western, and are excited about the new chef there, whose credentials are first-class,” said Ron McFarland, a UI Hemingway Scholar and professor of English.

Tickets for the festival’s signature fundraising event — A Moveable Feast — go on sale today, Oct. 1.  The festival runs March 2-5, 2016, with the feast held on Friday, March 4. The theme of this year’s feast is Havana Nights, and features a Cuban-inspired menu by University Inn executive chef Marshall Baltzell.

Inspired by Hemingway’s two favorite restaurants in Cuba — La Bodeguita Del Medio and Restaurante Floridita — Baltzell crafted a menu using locally-sourced products that reflect authentic Cuban cuisine. Specialty Hemingway mojitos and daiquiris will be available for purchase, with fine table wine provided.

The evening will also include Cuban music and dancing. Early bird tickets for the feast are $75, with prices going up to $85 after Feb. 1, 2016. Tables of eight are also available for a discounted price.

This year’s festival will also include more community activities and writing workshops geared toward high school students, as well as readings by local authors, UI English Department faculty members and students and this year’s Hemingway Fellow.

“We are really working hard to make the festival more community-based and have included events at the Moscow Public Library and the Moscow High School,” said Jennifer Hawk, director of the UI Hemingway Festival. “To continue our efforts in inspiring budding writers, we’ve added a high school writing contest. Our creative writing and literature faculty will also lead eight workshops at the Moscow High School during the festival.”                                                                                                                              

On Saturday, March 5, the 2015 PEN/Hemingway Award winning author, Arna Bontemps Hemenway, will host a book club discussion of his work, “Elegy on Kinderklavier” at the Moscow Public Library.

The Hemingway Festival was created in 2009 by UI’s Creative Writing Program — housed in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences — to honor the annual PEN/Hemingway Award winner. The award is given nationally for a novel or book of short stories by an American author who has not previously published a book of fiction.

More information about Ernest Hemingway’s connection to Idaho and the Hemingway Festival is available at

To purchase tickets to the 2016 Moveable Feast, stop by the Best Western Plus University Inn, 1516 Pullman Road in Moscow, Idaho, or go here:

Jennifer Hawk
Director, UI Hemingway Festival

(509) 432-6311

Savannah Tranchell
UI Communications & Marketing

(208) 885-9156

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, a research and Extension center in Twin Falls, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to more than 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference and Sun Belt Conference. Learn more: