This Epic Crawfish Festival Is Taking Over America for a Good Cause

Summer is a time for fun, food, and festivals, and -- if you happen to love eating heaping plates of boiled up crawfish at yours -- Crawfish for Cancer looks like one of the best you can spend your hard-earned money on. This epic festival is hitting 9 cities all across the country this year. Here's why it's worth checking out.

It's all going down for a good cause

The Crawfish for Cancer festival supports fundraising for multiple myeloma cancer research. Also known as Kahler's disease, multiple myeloma is a rare form of cancer that affects fewer than 200,000 people a year. Festival founder James Crowell started the event as a Crawfish Boil with his classmates at Williams College in Massachusetts in 2003. He turned the event into Crawfish for Cancer in 2008 in honor of his father, a retired lieutenant colonel of the US Air Force, who fought multiple myeloma for several years before passing away in 2014. All the proceeds go to funding for cancer research and according to Crawfish for Cancer's numbers, the festival's managed to give $400,000 to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation since 2009. The ultimate goal of the MMRF is to find a cure, and Crawfish for Cancer is there to help, with delicious food.

It's all-you-can eat and drink

As the video above demonstrates, these festivals end up packed with people and piled high with seafood. All-inclusive tickets buy you as much crawfish as you can possibly stuff in your face, access to an open bar, and live music. For the money, it's not a terrible deal -- New York's goes down on May 13 for five hours straight and tickets cost just $95 if you get them early (they're $120 at the door). You'd spend about the same on a pretty nice dinner, only this goes to a good cause.

Crawfish for Cancer festival's leadership also gets the importance of bringing big flavors to the experience too. Crowell enjoyed his first crawfish as a freshman playing baseball in high school, buying them for $5 for a 3-pound bag before watching the varsity team play. "The best part of crawfish is the rich butter that's complimented by the intense spice," he told Thrillist. "Spicier the better. Our Houston and New Orleans cooks know what they are doing."

It's coming to 8 different American cities

You don't have to live in New York either. There's a full lineup of dates in cities across the country left this summer and fall. Not all of them have been announced yet, but here are the ones that have. Check the festival site to set up alerts so that you can get notified of one near you (and get an early bird ticket).

  • New York City -- May 13
  • Atlanta -- May 20
  • Boston -- June 3
  • Chicago -- June 24
  • Charleston -- TBD
  • Charlotte -- TBD
  • San Francisco -- TBD
  • Los Angeles -- TBD
  • Washington, DC -- April 22 (past)

To hear Crowell tell it, his dreams for Crawfish for Cancer are pretty far-reaching. He hopes to one day be able to donate $1 million from just a single event. They're not quite there yet, but no less ambitious.

"Plan is to have 10,000 people on a pier on the West Side Highway," he said of the New York event. "Going to need some major sponsors to pull it off."

And lots of crawfish of course.

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Eric Vilas-Boas is a writer and editor at Thrillist. Follow him @e_vb_.