This Local Author Wants to Give Wisconsin Half a Million Dollars to Support Tourism Non-Profits, Libraries, More

This Local Author Wants to Give Wisconsin Half a Million Dollars to Support Tourism Non-Profits, Libraries, More

By Sam Cohen

May 30, 2023

Dannelle Gay, who has been a travel writer in Wisconsin for over a decade, recently released a new book titled “100 Things to Do in Wisconsin Before You Die.” Timed to coincide with the beginning of summer, Gay, better known as the Traveling Cheesehead, seeks to help the community by providing a list of fun things to do—and, hopefully, with a generous donation as well. 

Her goal is to donate approximately $500,000 to the state. Prior to the book’s release, the author discovered that Wisconsin received less in COVID tourism relief dollars than other states. “I thought—maybe I can be a COVID tourism relief fund,” she told WTMJ-TV.

Profits from book sales on select days will “be donated to non-profit tourism groups, food pantries, libraries and veterans groups,” according to WTMJ.

The project is close to Gay’s heart for several reasons. As she stated on her blog, “I am proud of this book. I have been blessed to highlight a lot of great places that make this project a perfect bucket list–a fine balance of great eats, culture, and history, even sports and unique Wisconsin gems to shop at and support.” 

Gay added: “I am even more proud of the potential this book has to offer back to Wisconsin–the money it will bring to places that need to be here for our future generations.”

One local restaurant, and family, received support from Gay’s book sales over Memorial Day weekend. Cantafio’s in Beaver Dam has been struggling in recent years. 

“In the past years we’ve done a free meal on Memorial Day — this year we’re not doing it because I don’t have any staff,” Joe Cantafio said in an interview with WTMJ.

Gay organized an event at the restaurant on Memorial Day with proceeds from the book sales going to the Wounded Warrior Project. Ryan Cantafio, Joe Cantafio’s son, was a Marine who died in combat in 2004. The donation will be made in Ryan’s memory.

Those who want to support their community and help Gay meet her goal can attend one of her book signings on select upcoming dates. Signings in June and July are taking place at the following times and locations:

6/6: 5-8 PM., Wisconsin Maritime Museum – benefits the Maritime Museum. 75 Maritime Dr., Manitowoc

6/8: 3-5 PM, Genisa Wine Bar. 11 N Main St., Janesville

6/24: 1-4 PM, Moonlight Drive-In. Moonlight Drive-In at 1494 E. Green Bay St. Shawano

7/1: 10 AM-1 PM at Cave Point Paddle & Pedal. 6329 WI-57, Sturgeon Bay

7/8: 9-11 AM at Riverside & Great Northern Railway – benefits the Riverside & Great Northern Railway. N115 CR – N, Wisconsin Dells

7/8: 2-4 PM at the Racine Public Library – benefits the Racine Public Library. 75 7th St., Racine

7/13: 3-7 PM Perlick Distillery. W5150 County Highway B, Sarona

7/15: 11 AM-3 PM Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad. 426 N Front St., Spooner

7/22: 9 AM-12 PM at The Elegant Farmer. HWY ES & J · 1545 Main St., Mukwonago

7/22: 1-4 PM at The Candle Mercantile. 870 W Main St, Lake Geneva

7/29: 10 AM-5 PM UFO Days in Elmwood – benefits the Elmwood group. Elmwood Public Library. 111 N. Main St., Elmwood

Purchases made at these events, as well as signings scheduled through August, will drive the proceeds for donation. More information on the book tour can be found here.


  • Sam Cohen

    Sam is the Editorial Product Manager in the Community Department at COURIER Newsroom. Prior to joining the organization, Sam worked as a writer and editor covering topics ranging from literature, health & wellness, and astrology to the British royal family and profiles of notable actors and musicians.

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