Memories of the Wagonmasters at Knott's Berry Farm
Remember when Knott's Berry Farm was free? You could walk in and spend all day for very little money. Most of the entertainment was free. You could go into the Calico Saloon, watch the pretty saloon girls dance the can-can,walk out and witness a shoot out in Calico Square, and then watch the Medicine Show, where an old time banjo player would play vintage songs and hustle the miracle cure in a bottle (which was nothing more than boysenberry juice) that would cure anything that ailed you.
Then you could walk across the square and take a ride on the narrow gauge train where you would get held up at gunpoint, then take a ride on a stagecoach and also get held up.
If you wanted to sit down for a while, you could go to the Birdcage Theater and take in an old time melodrama.
As you wondered up and down the streets of Ghost Town, you would see elderly fiddlers sitting on the porches of the old buildings, playing period songs that Mr. Knott so loved. I could go on and on about that wonderful place of yesteryear.
About sundown, Knott's started slowing down, as there were no thrill rides to keep people entertained. People gravitated to the Wagon Camp, an amphitheater which seated about 800 people and was encircled by covered wagons that you could also sit in. If memory serves correctly, the wagons were usually occupied by young sweethearts as the wagons were half enclosed.
About 8:00 o'clock, a young cowboy would build a campfire in the fire pit in front of the stage. A few minutes later, a cowboy singing group would appear singing western Classical music like you would hear in all the Roy Rogers and Gene Autry movies. This group was called The Wagonmasters.
You can email me at VernJacksonMusic@aol.com
The Wagonmasters in 2011
"We all got into town on the evening of the 18th and started rehearsing at about 10:00 pm. About 15 minutes later, we were all smiling and I actually got goose bumps and tears in my eyes. It was as if it had only been 52 minutes instead of 52 years. Our sound and our blend was coming back that fast. O called it a "God thing". We rehearsed for about an hour and then got together the next morning. We went over the songs a couple of times and decided that was it. That night at the awards show we were introduced by Rex Allen, Jr., who remembered coming to Knott's Berry Farm as a young boy and hearing the Wagonmasters perform. His father, Rex Allen Sr. was the last of the silver screen singing cowboys and Rex Jr. is carrying on the musical tradition. He told me he had performed in the Leisure World Amphitheater."
"It was a big thrill for me to receive this award. Knott's holds many special memories for me, among them, my very first singing job, my first recordings , and that's where I met my wife, Sandra 50 years ago. I feel I have come full circle. I have sung here for the Veterans Day celebrations, which I consider a great honor. I have been asked to do a show in the amphitheater next summer, and I can be seen from time to time on TBN, and in concert a couple of times a year at Faith Christian Assembly outside St. Andrews gate.
The Wagonmasters in 1962
The lead singer of The Wagonmasters was Vern Jackson, who with his wife, Sandra, resides at Leisure World in Southern California. For the next 20 years, Vern has been a featured gospel singer on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. The Wagonmasters gave Vern his first job in 1958, right out of high school, singing songs such as "El Paso", "Cool Water" and "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds".
In 2011, Vern was notified that The Wagonmasters were nominated to receive the coveted Pioneer Trails Award from the Western Music Association. Only four of the six surviving members of The Wagonmasters were able to attend. They hadn't worked together for over 52 years and were expected to perform a couple of songs at the ceremony.
As Vern said, "This will be a real challenge for four old men after 52 years. Two of the men live in the Phoenix area, one lives in Agoura Hills and I live here in Seal Beach, so there was no way we could get together to rehearse. So we picked tow songs that we thought we would all remember and everybody got a CD of them and we all rehearsed by ourselves. The awards were being held in the famous Kimo Theater in old town Albuquerque, New Mexico on November 19th.
So many of you have seen me on Trinity Broadcasting Network, as a regular featured vocalist and have written letters of testimony and encouragement to us. We greatly appreciate you. Sandra and I thank you for your love and prayers.
On this website, you can check out my upcoming appearances, view my discography and order CDs, and learn a little more about me. I hope you enjoy your visit. Please, feel free to send me a note.
Recently Released Recordings... "Here, I am Lord."
This recording features the following songs: "Here, I am Lord", "Put Your Hand in the Hand", "One Day at a Time", "Loving God, Loving Each Other", "Yes, I Know", When Darkness Falls", "Let There Be Peace", "Satisfied", "It is Well With My Soul", "Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling" and "My Forever Friend".
I enjoyed working on this CD. The making of it closely followed a prophecy given by Pastor Jay Haizlip at The Sanctuary in Westminster, California. I'm thrilled with it and excited for it being released and for you to hear it. Stay tuned to TBN and this website for updates and more releases.
Thank you and God bless you,
Over the years, God has truly blessed my family and me, and He has always remained faithful. My wife, Sandra and I have walked this "long and winding road" together for many years. We have received many gifts from the Lord; including our three sons, Randy, Landon and Brandon.
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