By Nikki Goldstein
September 14, 2011

Summer might technically end on September 21, but a few goodfolks are letting New Yorkers prolong the spirit: from September 23–25, the Hammer and Claws Blue Crab Feast will hit Chelsea for the first time, bringing an authentic, Maryland-style (steamed in beer, vinegar, and water, and dusted with Old Bay seasoning), all-you-can-eat blue crab feast right up to the Hudson Harbor. Tickets for each of the weekend’s four seatings cost $118, and include all the fixings—plus beer and cocktails. And it’s all for a good cause, no less.

As much as our eco-awareness is at an all-time high, the decline of the Chesapeake Bay—where watershed runoff has polluted the waters and turned over a third of the bay into a certified Dead Zone—has largely flown under the radar. But raising awareness for the cause—and sending proceeds to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to help fix those issues—were points of inspiration for Annapolis native and NYC-based restaurateur Joshua Morgan (Choptank) to organize Hammer and Claws in the first place.

“After organizing crab feasts at Choptank and seeing how much pent-up demand there was for that kind of interactive, communal dining experience, I knew I wanted to do something on a bigger scale,” said Morgan. “I can’t think of a better way to spend a day than eating crabs in a cool venue with live music—but I figured if I’m going to bring this unique feast to NYC, it only makes sense to give back to the Chesapeake, which makes it all possible. And because the CBF is affiliated with a whole network of non-profit organizations, including Long Island’s Peconic Bay, New Yorkers will hopefully feel that much closer to the cause.”

Proceeds from the festival will go directly towards the CBF’s extensive effort to plant trees, create riparian buffers, and replant oyster communities to sustainably control water pollution throughout the six states whose tributaries feed into the Chesapeake. Says Adam Wickline, Community Building Manager of the CBF, “Because the problems we face in the Chesapeake Bay are the same ones troubling estuaries and great waters far and wide, the work we’re doing here can become a template for others, including the Narragansett, Lake Tahoe, and the San Francisco Bay.”

Can’t make it to this year’s feast? Morgan anticipates turning it into an annual tradition—and maybe even introducing it to other cities around the country.

Nikki Goldstein is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.