Volunteer band directors play an important role in preparing the Classic Bowl Honor Band for its highly-anticipated performance on Saturday.
"It is all for the kids," was a sentiment shared among the volunteer band directors working with the participants in the Classic Bowl band.
Rich Stallcup, assistant band director for Chisholm High School in Enid, said the experience of marching in the honor band was great for his students.
"It is absolutely the best free band camp I have ever been to or ever taken students to," Stallcup said. "There is nothing to lose and everything to gain for young musicians."
Stallcup said this is only the third year he has helped with the honor band, but he said he was hooked from day one.
There are typically between 15 and 20 band directors from area communities who assist throughout the week. The honor band has close to 200 members.
For some band directors, the Classic Bowl band is something they were able to participate in as students and are now able to bring in their students to take part in the festival.
Adam Steuart, Hennessey's band director, played in the Classic Bowl band as a student.
"I did this in high school, all four years," Steuart said.
After graduating from college, Steuart moved to Colorado where he taught band.
"I really missed it. I wish we could have been involved in it. As soon as I moved back I got involved with it again," Steuart said. "I get to come back to Woodward, where I am from, and show my kids off to my family and friends."
Steuart brought 15 students from Hennessey to be a part of the band and also have the opportunity to work with college band directors.
"It is amazing. It is a great thing for the kids. This is probably the only honor marching band," Steuart said.
Steuart said he appreciated everyone who worked to put the Classic Bowl on.
"The Woodward people are great and the K-101 staff are amazing," Steuart said.
For other band directors, it is a family affair. Mike Conner and Byron Conner, father and son, both brought band members to participate in Classic Bowl.
Byron Conner, band director for Buffalo, said the honor band gave his students an opportunity to have new experiences.
"It is really good for my program. We don't get this big marching experience. It lets them know where they fit in with other kids," Conner said. "My kids really have fun, that makes it worth it."
Conner added he also enjoys working with the participants of the honor band.
"I get to work with sections I would get to in Buffalo. I really have a fun time here," Conner said.
Mike Conner, Alva's band director, said he brought three students to the very first Classic Bowl. He has been involved as a volunteer with the band for the past 12 years.
"It gives my kids an opportunity to march in a larger group. It gives them a chance for my kids to be around other kids that have the same passions. It is a great experience for them," Conner said.
The band practices long hours but Conner said they still have fun.
"They work hard, work long hours but they have fun," said Conner.
Jewell Conner, Mike Conner's wife, also volunteered to help the students.
Note: You have 2 chances to see the band in action on Saturday - in the downtown parade and during the Classic Bowl halftime show.