For more than 30 Fairland students, last week’s trip to Louisiana proved more than just the experience of a lifetime.

Fairland Band members returned home with third place in the field marching contest competion at the Sugar Bowl Contest of Champions.

They also had the opportunity to perform before millions in the Sugar Bowl halftime show.

“I am very proud of all of my students not only for their performance, which I thought was one of our best, but also for their behavior throughout the trip as well,” said Fairland Band Director Sean Newman. “They represented Oklahoma, Ottawa County and Fairland in a very positive way. Their behavior was complemented on by the bus drivers, hotel staff as well as the staff of Bowl Games of America. They conducted themselves like young ladies and gentlemen should. I am proud to be their director and I was very happy and pleased when we were able to win third place in the Contest of Champions.”

Band members spent four days in New Orleans preparing for competition against bands from all over the country - as far away as Alaska.

“It was pretty hard but we did our best,” said Khol Kittrell, a seventh grade Fairland Band member. “Otherwise it was just like all the other competitions that we go to here in Oklahoma.”

Senior band member Braxton Reece said the trip was a really great experience - “completely different than Fairland.” In addition to competing and performing during the Sugar Bowl, Fairland students visited Hard Rock Cafe and ate in the famous Michaul’s.

“We also went on a city tour were we learned about the grave yards in New Orleans,” said Newman. “How people are all buried above the ground. We went on a swamp tour and saw several alligators. We even got to hold an alligator while we were there. We went to a place called "Mardi Gras World" were they have all of the floats from the various parades on display. We also went to the zoo in New Orleans.”

Reece said his favorite part of the trip was Mardi Gras World, dancing and the food.

“There are people who pretend to be statues on Jackson Square,” said Reece. “That was a really weird experience.”

Kittrell said playing in the halftime show at the Sugar Bowl was a favorite.

“I was nervous at first but then I got used to it,” said Kittrell.

“I'm glad that Fairland was able to have the opportunity to go and I think it will be good for the future of the band in Fairland,” said Reece.

Newman said he doesn’t intend for trips like this to be unique to Fairland Band.

“I know that we will be going on more trips but I don't know if they will involve us going back to the Sugar Bowl,” said Newman. “I like for my students to have the most and the best experiences that they can have while getting to compete against groups from across the state and nation.”

Back at home, the focus has returned to concert band.

“District solo and ensembles are coming up soon and we are involved with several different honor bands,” said Newman. “We will be attending contests at NEO A&M, Catoosa High School, as well as district contest at Bartlesville High School and hopefully State contest at OSU.”

Fairland was the only band from Oklahoma to compete in contest or perform during the Sugar Bowl this year.

Band members say they are grateful to all of the individuals and businesses who helped make their trip possible.