By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Mar 16, 2017 at 5:00 AM

Most every Milwaukeean has a history with Summerfest, landmark moments we'll remember forever. Now, Summerfest and Milwaukee County Historical Society have teamed up to create an exhibition in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the World’s Largest Music Festival that celebrates five decades of bringing Milwaukeeans together and making musical memories.

A comprehensive exhibition tracing the history of the Big Gig will open at the Historical Society, 930 N. Old World 3rd St. and run through September, as a companion to the museum’s "Melodies and Memories: 200 Years of Milwaukee Music," which is currently on view, and which I wrote about here

Via a series of colorful graphic panels, interactive experiences and displays of memorabilia and original posters, the exhibition will tell the story of the headliners and other performers, but also of the founding of the festival and how it’s evolved over the years.

But this is just one part of a three-part historical celebration that also includes an interactive installation at the Henry Maier Festival Park, created by Derse, for the duration of Summerfest, which runs June 28-July 2 and July 4-9 from noon until midnight.

The third component is a smaller traveling exhibit that will visit a number of Pick ‘n Save locations in May and June, and at Racine Public Library, April 26-May 8; Brown County Library, May 10-22; Sheboygan County Library, May 24-June 5; Wisconsin Historical Society, June 7-17; and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, June 20-26.

Summerfest will host a special open house happy hour at the Milwaukee County Historical Society from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14 as part of the River Rhythms Summer Concert Series season kick-off at Pere Marquette Park adjacent to the MCHS.

As part of its tradition of building community by bringing Milwaukee -- and guests -- together for the festival every year since 1968, Summerfest and MCHS are asking the public to chip in by donating photos, documents and memorabilia that may be suitable for the Summerfest 50 exhibition.

If you think you have something that fits the bill, fill out a submission form at or

OnMilwaukee is a media sponsor of the Summerfest 50 exhibition. For more information on Summerfest or the exhibit, visit, or follow @Summerfest on Twitter.

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 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 has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.