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Crime Scenes Make Killing With Tourists

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"People just started coming here, asking questions. Finally, someone said, 'You're sitting on a goldmine,'" Poland says.

"We aren't doing this to glorify crime. We aim to honor the law enforcement officers and to teach people about the real history."

Criminal historians and relatives of both Bonnie and Clyde and also the officers who pursued them have participated in festival forums and attended the roadside shootout show. The extravaganza features actors from Denton, Texas, where the lawless lovebirds twice robbed the local bank.

Each year, the actors roll out the same vintage Bonnie and Clyde car that was used in the movie, and every year it's shot up like Swiss cheese. The real getaway car was purchased for $85,000 and is on display at Whiskey Pete's Casino, just outside Las Vegas.

Just to indicate the enduring popularity of the couple, candles and love notes are regularly found left at the couple's graves in Dallas. They're buried 10 miles apart, however, because Bonnie Parker's mother disapproved of the relationship and would not stand to see them side by side for eternity.

2. Alferd Packer's Flesh-Eating Festival
You could say Alferd Packer — the first American tried on charges of cannibalism — got his just desserts. In 1874, he was convicted of throwing a dinner party in really bad taste. Nowadays, he suffers an afterlife of totally tasteless jokes.

In the rugged winter of 1873, Packer was trapped in Colorado's San Juan Mountains along with five other prospectors. He emerged 65 days later looking suspiciously plump.

Packer never denied that he ate his colleagues. He claimed that he killed only one victim, and that was in self-defense.

As legend has it, at the sentencing, the presiding judge told Packer, "There were nine Democrats in Hinsdale County, and you ate five of them," and sent him off to die.

But Packer escaped the hangman's noose through a technicality. He was tried again, convicted, and served 40 years. But he proclaimed his innocence to the very end.

Now, in Lake City, Colo., where America convicted its first cannibal, they celebrate Alferd Packer Days — a two-day celebration, with coffin races, bone-throwing contests, and excursions to Dead Men's Gulch, where Packer's victims were exhumed. The next gala will be held on Memorial Day.

In nearby Littleton, where Packer was buried, the local museum in past years has hosted a re-creation of the prospector's criminal trial, topped off with a "Beef Alferdo" memorial dinner.

Cannibal jokes have become especially popular at the University of Colorado at Boulder. After a 1968 student protest over lousy on-campus grub, students voted to rename a cafeteria the Alferd Packer Grill. They subsequently began celebrating their own Alferd Packer Day with a speed-eating contest featuring barbecued ribs and steak tartar.

Two of the university's most famous students, "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, based their first collaboration, the 1996 feature film "Cannibal: A Musical," on Packer's life. The movie poster promised, "All Singing! All Dancing! All Flesh Eating!"