By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 08, 2021 at 9:04 AM

Visit Milwaukee is organizing a festival of virtual events around town to support the city’s hospitality community and taking part could mean a bit of cash for local businesses taking part.

Giving Fest will be a series of more than 50 virtual events that, in the words of the city’s tourism entity, “celebrate and, most importantly, support Milwaukee’s hospitality community, which has been devasted by the economic effects of the pandemic.

“Imagine your life without the restaurants you love, the service providers you frequent, the venues where you’ve celebrated life’s milestones. That could become a reality if we don’t do what we can to support them now.”

Businesses that organize a virtual event – such as, suggests Visit Milwaukee, a cooking demonstration, a trivia contest, a Q&A with a chef or other interesting employees – can list that event at Milwaukee365.com at 8 a.m. on Jan. 15.

The first 50 businesses to enter their event will get $1,000. And all businesses that enter an event as part of Giving Fest will be entered win a $5,000 prize.

Then, once Giving Fest is up and running on Jan. 15, check out as many as you can and let the events spark a commitment to supporting these local hospitality businesses across the city.

The festival continues through February.

“Giving Fest is all about showing Milwaukee businesses love and financial support," says Visit Milwaukee President and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith. "These are virtual events that will have a real impact to help struggling businesses get through these next few months.

“Giving Fest is not limited to locals. Any one who loves Milwaukee across the globe can participate in these virtual events. The purpose of Giving Fest is to engage everyone in donating directly to our hospitality community while having some fun at the same time.

“I ask everyone to pick multiple Giving Fest virtual events and join in. Let’s all get involved and support local right now.”

For full details, visit visitmilwaukee.org/giving-fest, and stay tuned to OnMilwaukee for more information about specific events.

OnMilwaukee is a sponsor of Giving Fest.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.