Alferd Packer was a famed Colorado outdoorsman and wilderness guide who earned his notoriety during an attempt to guide five other men through the mountains to a gold mining site during winter, 1873. Packer was less than successful. As the men grew more desperate over the winter weeks, one of them, Shannon Bell, attacked Packer with a hatchet. Packer successfully turned the tables and killed Bell. He then discovered that the other men in the group had already been killed.
That was Packer’s story, at least. It was held as dubious for two reasons. First was the fact that after finding his way back to civilization, Packer proceeded to spend money from the other men’s wallets rather than inform authorities of what had happened.
Oh, and there was the cannibalism, too.
Packer was determined to have torn large strips of flesh from the dead men and consumed it during the remaining winter weeks, until the place where they’d been snowed in, Slumgullion pass, cleared enough for him to leave. His actions were evident when the bodies were found, and Packer didn’t deny it. He simply denied having killed them.
This is the sort of notorious crime which tends to be remembered by local residents. It’s not normally celebrated. That makes Lake City, Colorado, fairly unusual.
Every Memorial Day weekend, Lake City holds Packer Days, a city event remembering Alferd Packer’s crime. It holds a 5K Run For Your Life, followed by a Mystery Meat Cook-off in which cooks submit meals designed to trick tasters who attempt to guess what type of meat is used in them. Local history is taught (with a particular eye toward Packer’s victims) as are wilderness survival skills.
For those who are a bit disturbed by the notion, it’s recommended they not attend the University of Colorado. There, the campus has the Alferd Packer Restaurant and Grill. Sausage available.
Question of the night: What’s your preferred barbecue or grilling meal?