You may never have read “The Old Man and the Sea.” Perhaps you did read “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and hated it, but you may have loved “The Sun Also Rises.” No matter how you personally feel about the author who won the Nobel Prize in literature (1954), there’s no denying that Ernest Hemingway left his footprint in the world of books – and also in the Petoskey Area of northern Michigan.
For those who are fans of Hemingway, a great place to follow his trail is Petoskey, MI and its neighboring communities of Horton Bay, Walloon Lake and Bay View.
Young Hemingway was well-known in Petoskey and Horton Bay. He spent his first 22 summers in the family’s cottage on beautiful Walloon Lake and often could be seen in his late teens and early twenties eating breakfast at Jesperson’s in downtown Petoskey with his buddy Dutch, and picking up things for home at the Horton Bay General Store. Not only did he pen some of his writings while in Petoskey, but some area locales are recognizable in “Up in Michigan,” “End of Something,” and “The Torrents of Spring.”
The Little Traverse Historical Museum on Petoskey’s waterfront was once home to the Chicago and West Michigan Railroad. Now this seasonal gem gives guests a glimpse into Hemingway’s past with an expansive exhibit featuring the writer. Staff and docents are delighted to share information about the literary legacy; it’s well worth the minimal $3 admission fee if only to see this exhibit (and there are others at the museum, too.)
There are two very good ways to explore this charming region if you’re looking for background about Hemingway. First, download the brochure Ernest Hemingway’s Northern Michigan. The Michigan Hemingway Society put together this fact-filled piece which leads you through Hemingway’s old stomping grounds from Walloon Lake to Horton Bay and into Bay View and Petoskey. If you prefer the material already be printed for you, pick up a copy of the brochure at the museum or Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce when you visit. Second, if you really want to get down to the nitty-gritty on Papa, take a guided Hemingway tour offered by Petoskey Yesterday. Local Hemingway aficionado (and Michigan Hemingway Society president this year), Chris Struble, will lead you on an interesting, ninety-minute tour loaded with stories about the Pulitzer Prize winning author (1953).
In July, writer Stewart James will be launching his new book “Writing with Hemingway,” at City Park Grill in Petoskey – where Hemingway himself once sat (second seat from the left). George Colburn will also be on hand talking about Young Hemingway: Finding his Muse in Northern Michigan, a documentary which Colburn is currently producing. The event will take place from 4pm – 6pm on July 14 – one week before the anniversary of Hemingway’s birth.
Stafford’s Perry Hotel (yes, another place the writer spent time) will host the 1st Annual Hemingway Birthday Celebration on Hemingway’s actual birth date – July 21st. Dine along with Hemingway historians, enjoy live music and a fabulous five course meal as you raise your glass in a toast to the celebrated author.
The climax for Hemingway fans in the Petoskey Area will happen October 16-18 when the annual Hemingway Weekend takes place once again at the historic Stafford’s Perry Hotel. Speakers, tours and presentations will give participants an intimate look into the life of this prolific writer and will include “A Moveable Feast.”
Though he died 50+ years ago, the spirit of Hemingway lives on in the Petoskey Area. Come learn about him and find out why Hemingway called this area “a priceless place.”
About the author
Diane Dakins is passionate about all of the communities that comprise the Petoskey Area of Michigan: Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor and Boyne City. As assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, she has “been there – seen that” when it comes to virtually every area attraction. She strives to create informative content that gives potential visitors the scoop on planning a northern Michigan vacation.