The life of legendary author Ernest Hemingway, who hunted, fished and wrote in the Sun Valley area for parts of 22 years, has not been openly celebrated on a grand scale in Central Idaho.
That is about to change.
The Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau this week announced that this fall it will hold the Wood River Valley's first Ernest Hemingway Festival, a five-day event designed to honor the Nobel Prize-winning author and educate literary enthusiasts about his time in the Idaho mountains.
The festival is scheduled to take place from Sept. 22 to Sept. 26 at a variety of venues in the Sun Valley-Ketchum area.
"A Hemingway festival is something that we have worked long and hard at creating," said Carrie Westergard, Chamber marketing director. "We're really pleased to have it all finally come together."
Indeed, the Chamber has been working for more than a year to establish a festival to celebrate Hemingway and his works. The organization planned to hold such an event in 2004 but opted not to after it could not come to terms with the license holder of the Ernest Hemingway name, which demands compensation for any commercial uses of the name.
Westergard said the Chamber has now come to terms with the licensing group and plans to hold the Ernest Hemingway Festival annually.
The festival, Westergard said, will be "a well-rounded celebration of Hemingway's life in the Wood River Valley and surrounding area."
To date, the festival program includes: lectures and panel discussions by national scholars, a short-story contest, a tour of "Hemingway hangouts," a trap-shooting contest, guided fishing and hunting packages, theater productions, "A Moveable Feast" dining tour, a "Hemingway in Idaho" slide show and gatherings at selected historic sites.
Westergard said the events will likely be dispersed throughout Sun Valley, Ketchum and outlying areas. It is intended that numerous events will be free of charge, she said, although some special events will charge a fee for participation.
Westergard said the Chamber hopes the festival will garner national and international attention and will attract Hemingway enthusiasts from "all over the world."
The goal might seem lofty, but given Hemingway's stature in literary circles across the globe, it certainly could be realized.
Hemingway novels such as "The Sun Also Rises," "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "A Farewell to Arms" are widely appreciated as classic works of American literature. His novella "The Old Man and the Sea" earned him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.
Hemingway first visited the Wood River Valley in the fall of 1939. Forty years old and already an acclaimed writer, he was invited to the new Sun Valley Lodge to help promote the sophisticated, rural mountain resort.
In Room 206 of the lodge, which he nicknamed "Glamour House," he worked on "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and prepared for excursions into the outdoors to hunt and fish.
He returned to Sun Valley the next fall. He went duck hunting at Silver Creek, near Picabo, and took a pack trip into the wilderness along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
Hemingway ultimately traveled to Idaho several times in the 1940s, staying in Sun Valley Village and at the MacDonald Cabins, now called the Ketchum Korral.
During his time in the Wood River Valley, he went duck hunting with actor Gary Cooper, socialized and gambled in downtown Ketchum and, of course, wrote.
In 1959, with his fourth wife, née Mary Welsh, Hemingway purchased a house along the Big Wood River north of Ketchum for $50,000.
Some Hemingway scholars have maintained that the writer—a veritable man of the world—had only three places he ever considered to be his home: Key West, Fla., San Francisco de Paulo, Cuba, and Ketchum.
While residing at his Ketchum estate, scholars say, Hemingway wrote portions of "The Garden of Eden," a posthumously published novel about a writer who struggles to emerge from a problematic love triangle, and "A Moveable Feast," a lively memoir of his early days as a writer in Paris.
Suffering from depression and a variety of health ailments, Hemingway killed himself with a 12-gauge shotgun in the front room of the house on July 2, 1961. He was 61.
Hemingway is buried in the Ketchum Cemetery, immediately north of downtown.
Details on the Ernest Hemingway Festival will be released in the coming months.