Reenactment of Hemingway wedding highlights celebration in Walloon Lake

Greg Tasker
Special to The Detroit News

Walloon Lake -- This northern Michigan resort town continues its year-long Hemingway celebration this weekend with a series of events that include a statue unveiling and special reception marking the centennial of the author’s first wedding in nearby Horton Bay.

Hemingway Homecoming organizers will reveal details of the Hemingway statue, which will be installed in the Village’s Circle Park, after Saturday’s ceremony. Other activities include strolling Hemingways (actors portraying the author at different stages in his life), fly casting demonstrations by Brian “Koz” Kozminski of True North Trout, and Hemingway-themed food and drink specials at the Barrel Back, an eatery on the shores of Walloon Lake.

Chris Struble, president of the Michigan Hemingway Society, will give a presentation and note the spot along Walloon Lake where the Hemingways would have boarded a boat, the last leg of their long journey from Illinois to their summer cottage.

A series of signs that tell the story of Walloon Lake and the Hemingway family’s ties to the village will be installed in the fall.

Walloon Lake emerged as a resort town in the late 19th century, with visitors from the Midwest traveling by train to the village and then by boat to the hotels and their own cottages on Walloon Lake. The Hemingways were among them.

Hemingway Homecoming is Saturday in the Walloon Lake's village park.

 Ernest Hemingway was just 3 months old when he made his first trip from Oak Park, Illinois, to Walloon Lake. His parents, Clarence and Grace (Hall), had purchased property along the lake’s north shore to build a cottage. Hemingway would spend part or all of his summers in northern Michigan until he was a young man.

The northern Michigan landscape of woods, rivers and lakes would later become the setting of some of Hemingway’s most well-known short stories, published over the years and eventually compiled in a collection, “The Nick Adams Stories.” The book was the focus of a multi-week virtual series earlier this year.

As part of the weekend festivities, the Michigan Hemingway Society will announce that  Walloon Lake will be added to its Michigan Hemingway Tour. A bronze historical plaque will be dedicated at a later date. Walloon Lake will become one of 15 sites in the Petoskey area with plaques explaining their connection to the legendary writer.

A highlight for many will be Friday evening’s special centennial wedding reception at the Talcott Center in Walloon Lake. The event, capped at about 100 guests, is also a fundraiser for the Michigan Hemingway Society.

 Hemingway and Hadley were married on Sept. 3, 1921, at a Methodist church in Horton Bay; the building no longer exists. It was a modest affair, attended by family and Hemingway’s up north friends. The reception was held around the corner at a still-standing boarding house. There was no alcohol; his parents didn’t allow drinking (and it was Prohibition).

The couple honeymooned at the family cottage, Windemere. The cottage is owned by descendants of the Hemingways.

Elements of the reception will be replicated at the Talcott Center. The evening kicks off at 6 p.m with a Hemingway-themed Happy Hour, with a cash bar featuring wines from Walloon Lake Winery, Two Hearted Ale from Bell’s Brewery, cocktails and Papa’s Pilar, a rum brand endorsed by the Hemingway Foundation.

Actors, dressed in attire from that era, will portray the newlyweds. Hadley was the first of Hemingway’s four wives.

“I like to joke that Michigan is home to 25% of Hemingway’s weddings,” said Struble, who also is the founder of Petoskey Yesterday, which offers guided tours related to Hemingway and local history.  “We were looking for something substantive to tie to an event. Even though it was 100 years ago, you still hear about it. The book, ‘The Paris Wife,’ has done as much as anything to bring Hemingway back to the forefront. And then there’s the recent Ken Burns documentary about Hemingway.”

Dinner begins at 7 p.m., with a menu re-created from recipes from the original boarding house, the Pinehurst Inn in Horton Bay. The inn was known for its fried chicken and the Hemingway family dined there during the summer retreats at the family’s cottage.

 “We don’t know for sure what they ate,” says Dianna Stampfler, who is the Hemingway Homecoming coordinator for the Village of Walloon Lake. “The menu is provided by the Dilworth family, the family that owned Pinehurst. We’re almost certain they had fried chicken. We went through the family cookbook and picked items that could have been served at that time. It’s likely some of these things would have been served to the Hemingways.”

 As part of the fundraiser, guests will have a chance to bid on a variety of unique Hemingway and Walloon Lake-themed items and experiences. Among the most coveted items is a VIP tour for up to eight of the Grace Hall Cottage, the cottage Hemingway’s mother had built on the opposite side of the lake to escape her children. The private cottage has been restored. The tour includes wine and cheese. Other auction items include a fly fishing package, a private Hemingway tour and an autographed book by Hemingway’s favorite sister, Madelaine “Sunny” Hemingway Miller.

Hemingway Homecoming

11 a.m. Saturday

Circle Park, Village of Walloon Lake

Activities include:

Statue unveiling

Used book sale by The Friends of the Crooked Tree District Library

“Hemingway Through the Years,” actors portraying the writers at different stages of his life

Fly casting demonstrations

Hemingway-themed food and drink at Barrel Back

Information: WalloonLakeMi.com or Facebook.com/WalloonLakeMi.