By Samantha Johnson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
HALO Air Ambulance is gearing up for its second annual Turf to Tarmac Charity Gala on Sept. 29.
“Last year, we had 25 tables and that was a sellout for us,” stated CEO Paul Carolan. “We wanted to start in a manageable way, but there was so much demand and so many people at the event that night who said, ‘I have to have a table next year,’ that we moved from 25 to 36. That’s the most we’ll be able to fit with everything.”
Even with the increase, only two tables remained when Southern Alberta Newspapers caught up with Carolan earlier this month.
All the food for the banquet is being donated, with a pig from the Agriculture Discovery Centre at Irvine School, beef from Weiss Ranches, potatoes and onions from Kuizenga Farms, dill and mint from Dale Thacker Specialty Crops and Earl’s Restaurant and Bar providing the catering and creating the menu. Added to all that, each course will be paired with a sample-sized beverage from a local brewery or distillery.
“That’s how this works,” explained Carolan. “The inspiration for this event was about that farm-to-table approach, that’s partially why it’s called Turf to Tarmac. The idea is that our supporters, both from a rural and city perspective, support the event by providing ingredients for the menu. It’s a multi-course plated menu, so there is an appetizer hour and then five courses served at your table.”
Due to cancellation in 2021, it became well known that musician Jess Moskaluke would perform at last year’s inaugural event, but it was always the intention to keep the entertainment a surprise until the day of. Carolan did reveal that another Canadian country music artist is coming for this year’s gala.
“It was always the intention to have the artist be a surprise but we had already announced that Jess Moskaluke would be our entertainment and we kept her for the rerun. Now we are back to that original plan of keeping that a secret and I think it will be a cool surprise for people.”
Turf to Tarmac came about due to the support HALO received from within Medicine Hat during the pandemic. HALO had traditionally held fundraisers rurally, where the helicopter tends to operate. But, Carolan says, support from individuals and small businesses in the city was vital, and this anchor event within the city resulted from several years of planning.
“It’s a really unique event. It’s very rare you would get to have a gala-style event, black tie western formal, in an active, industrial aviation hangar. The helicopter comes in and lands and we bring it inside. It arrives for the evening and is inside the hangar for the rest of the evening. It’s an incredible event and we are looking forward to it,” said Carolan.
Those two remaining tables meant 16 tickets were still available at $250 each. Go to haloairambulance.com/events for more information.