The Alferd Packer Memorial String Band is five multi-instrumentalists, dressed in old time costumes, singing and playing fiddles, banjo, guitars, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, accordion, bass, and creative percussion.
Based in Lawrence, Kansas, the band has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, and in a documentary called “Overlooked” which aired on KTKA-TV. They were the focus of articles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Readers’ Digest. Their music has been used in a national broadcast on NPR. Their infectious good humor and high energy leave no toe untapped. Last year the Band was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame. Visit www.alferdpackerband.com. The band has produced three compact discs in their more than 25-year history.
The Western Plains Arts Association is sponsor of the 3 p.m. Central, Sunday, Nov. 5 show at the Quinter High School Auditorium. Admission is by WPAA season ticket or adults $10 and students $5 at the door. The Dane G. Hansen Foundation is a major contributor to this event.
Ahead of the show the Alferd Packer Memorial String Band will host a free workshop on "Odd Instruments" at 1:30 in the auditorium. This is open to anyone interested.
The Alferd Packer Memorial String Band is named after the gold prospector-turned- cannibal Alferd Packer. Packer was the only American ever convicted of cannibalism. According to the Colorado Virtual Library, Packer caught “gold fever” and sought to make his fortune in the Colorado Mountains. During the winter of 1873-74, Packer joined a group of five other men Chief Ouray advised them to postpone their journey until spring, but the men ignored the Chief’s advice. In February, the six men ran out of food. Alone in the wilderness and trapped in heavy snows, the men soon resorted to boiling their moccasins for food. Cannibalism eventually ensured, and Packer, the lone survivor, served 15 of a 40-year sentence in the State Penitentiary, Cañon City.
At the conclusion of the trial, the judge’s exact words were, “Alferd Packer, you voracious man-eater, there were only seven Democrats in Hinsdale County, and you done et five of ’em.” After his parole, Packer moved to Denver and worked hard to clear his name. He died in 1907. In 1980, a judge named Ervan Kushner tried to get Packer pardoned posthumously, but was unsuccessful. Packer is buried in Littleton, Colo.