The Cultural Oasis of The Midwest: Fairfield, Iowa

The Cultural Oasis of The Midwest : Fairfield, IA

By Cory Ellerd

Nestled for miles by calmly rolling fields and fertile cropland, Fairfield, Iowa, has always been a dynamic, ahead of the curve little town, despite a modest population that averages around 10,000. Fairfield has the county government and sponsored Iowa’s first state fair in 1854. Andrew Carnegie built the first of 1,689 public libraries just south of the Fairfield square. Almost two dozen buildings in Fairfield have qualified for a listing on the National Register of Historic Buildings, including a turreted Victorian mansion two blocks east of downtown.

From industry to education to green living, Fairfield, Iowa, has consistently made its mark.

The influential Louden Machinery Company, based in Fairfield, developed labor-saving equipment that influenced farming from coast to coast. Today, Fairfield’s lively entrepreneurial climate has earned it the nickname “Silicorn Valley.” Unique retail shops make Fairfield a popular destination point for the region. Among the one-of-a-kind stores are the whole foods grocery store Everybody’s, the kitchen, cooking, and knitting store At Home, the alternative health store Thymely Solutions, and the children’s toy store Finnywick’s.

Parsons College (1875-1973) established one of the most innovative educational programs of its time. It became known as the “Second Chance” college, attracting a national student body. In 1974, Maharishi University of Management bought the campus and moved its student body from California to the Heartland. The accredited university offers a range of classes and an environment where everyone meditates. Students, faculty, and staff all observe Transcendental Meditation. Many new residences and classrooms have been built in recent years, and the new all-green Sustainable Living building is now under construction.

With the Sustainable Living at MUM, the City of Fairfield has also jumped on the green bandwagon. MSN.com named Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy one of the greenest mayors in the country, on par with Portland, New York, and Chicago! “I believe Fairfield is poised to become a model sustainable city reaping the benefits of energy conservation, smart technology, renewable energy, and green entrepreneurship,” said Mayor Malloy. In 2009 the city hired its own Sustainability Coordinator, the dynamic Scott Timm, who organized Backyard Conservation workshops, conducted energy-efficiency studies on commercial buildings, and published the Fairfield’s Go Green Guide.

Fairfield’s extensive trail system attracts many hikers and bikers, who can travell for miles through town, country, and woods, all on well-maintained gravel paths. The Fairfield Park & Rec’s indoor pool recently installed a new filtration system that dramatically reduces the use of chlorine.

One evening each month, Fairfield lights up the square for the 1st Fridays Art Walk. Galleries and shops open their doors for a night of fine arts, music, entertainment, and neighborly fun. All year round, the new Fairfield Arts and Convention Center (FACC) hosts a stellar roster of entertainment, from concerts and dance productions, to plays and events. America’s most influential musical theater artist, Stephen Sondheim, generously granted permission to use his name for FACC’s 520-seat theater. The Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts is also home to Fairfield’s Way Off Broadway theater company.

Media around the country have recurrently recognized Fairfield as a shining star in the Midwest. In 2006, Mother Earth News writer Lynn Byczynski chose Fairfield, Iowa, as one of “12 Great Places You’ve Never Heard Of.”

(ArticlesBase SC #3386032)

For more Info, check out these links: Fairfield, IA, Fairfield Iowa, and Iowa.

To read more articles on Fairfield, Iowa, visit the Fairfield article archive in The Iowa Source.

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4 Responses to “The Cultural Oasis of The Midwest: Fairfield, Iowa”

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