Concho Express Conductor Tells of Father-Son Operation
For many, the San Angelo Stock Show and rodeo has become a family tradition. Mothers, fathers, grandparents and children flock to the performances each year, enjoy the treats and sweets on the carnival grounds, and watch with wide eyes the cowboys and girls riding by on horses and bulls.
For some, the excitement isn’t about attending the event, but rather working at it. Jimmy Jones has been snaking through the fairgrounds in his brightly colored Concho Express train for the past 4-5 years. For him, the 16-day affair is all about the kids and family.
“In the mornings, probably starting Monday, we’ll ride the school kids from 9:00 a.m. to probably about 1 or 2 in the afternoon,” Jones says. “We pack them in like sardines and put the teachers on the back. They really enjoy it.”
Schoolchildren are brought to the fairgrounds to attend the milking exhibit, petting zoo and other youth and education oriented activities. Jones says he enjoys driving the children back and forth between the barns and hearing their laughter from the train’s boxcars.
Although he’s the official conductor of the train, Jones doesn’t own it, but does the job to spend time with his son, Gator the Clown. Gator, also known as Kenneth A. Jones, hails from Frisco, but loves San Angelo, his father says. He got his start in entertainment at a young age, playing in the band from 6th grade through high school.
After high school, Gator “came to San Angelo, Angelo State, and wanted to be a lab technician, but he didn’t have the high school background for it,” his father says. “So, he switched to drama. They have a great drama department.”
Since graduation Gator the Clown has been returning to San Angelo every year to participate in the rodeo entertainment. He walks on stilts, ties balloons and does other tricks for children and passersby. For Jones, getting to work with his son is just another benefit to the job.
“At least we get to spend some time together,” he said, following up with a line known to most fathers. “That’s the only time I get to see him.”
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