Good 'Ole Fairfield

I don't think I've ever really talked about my hometown on here.  It's an interesting little hometown to say the least.  One that even Oprah has visited!  (Among other celebs, as rumor has it.)

I'm from Fairfield, Iowa.  A town in southeast Iowa with a population around 10,000.   It's about an hour from the Illinois border, 45 minutes from Missouri, and an hour south of Iowa City.  Born and raised there, Fairfield is where I spent the first 18 1/2 years of my life.  I graduated from Fairfield High School - the only public high school in town - in 2001 with about 130 classmates; though my class was one of the smaller classes compared to those around us.

In many aspects, Fairfield is like many other small Iowan towns.  There is a town square, local traditions, and Friday night football games.  Local shopping includes Wal-Mart and Hy-Vee...and that's pretty much it!  You can drive from one end of Fairfield to the next in ten minutes.  Or less.

The gazebo in the middle of the town square

For the small town that Fairfield is, it has a great Christmas light display
Friday night lights

There is also one pretty significant difference (and lots of smaller ones) that differentiate Fairfield from every single other small town in Iowa (and in America, for that matter).  Fairfield is home to the Maharishi University of Management, a college founded by India native Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, that promotes the practice of transcendental meditation, among other beliefs.  The college attracts many international students, so believe it or not, Fairfield was a small, yet very diverse, town to grow up in!

Not only is there a college, but also a K-12 private school.  And a grocery store.  And multiple Maharishi-based businesses.  And two domes in which the followers meditate.  Two times per day. 

One of the two "Golden Domes"

Some say this idea is a religion.  It's not.  Others refer to it as a cult.  The people swear this isn't true either.  Instead, it's a way of life.  They believe in all things natural, buy only organic food (hence their own grocery store), build their homes to face the East (this lets in only positive vibes), and have a very specific style of architecture (with a steeple-type thing, again to let in the positive vibes).  They believe in holistic medicine and have their own health spa called The Raj (this is supposedly where lots of celebs have visited...Drew Barrymore, Russell Brand, The Beach Boys, to name a few...).    They even branched out a few years ago and founded their own town - Maharishi Vedic City - a sort of suburb to Fairfield.  Maharishi Vedic City is home to hundreds of Pandits - 800+ Indian men who spend eight hours each day meditating, chanting and studying in hopes of bringing peace and harmony to the world.  A little strange?  I think so.

The architecture

So why Fairfield??  In the 70s, a very popular Fairfield-based college (Parson's College) went bankrupt and closed.  The empty college campus and fact that Fairfield was centrally located (within the United States) attracted the Maharishi.  They bought it and MUM was born.

Growing up, there was a very distinct separation between the Maharishi or "roos" (short for guru) and the Fairfield natives or "townies".  I think the older generations felt like "the roos" invaded their beloved hometown.  Not to mention, they think many of their beliefs are off-the-wall crazy.  (They claim they can fly, for instance, while meditating.  I would agree that this claim is bananas.)  I think there's more of an acceptance in the younger generation, though I still wouldn't say all is peaches and cream.

Growing up there, it was all very normal to me.  (Well, as normal as it could be.)  That's all I ever knew.  When I went to college, I realized that Fairfield is very fascinating to non-residents.  Friends, co-workers, even college TAs and professors would question me about the small town and the Maharishi!!  When I told fellow southeastern Iowans I was from Fairfield, I'd always get the same response, "Oooooooohhhhh......can you fly?" :)

Oprah visited a couple of years ago and named Fairfield America's most unusual town.  True dat.

Oprah visited in the fall of 2011.  The Oprah's Next Chapter featuring her visit aired last spring.

Here she is discussing good 'ole Fairf and the idea of transcendental meditation with Dr. Oz!

So why did I decide to do a blog post of my little old hometown of Fairfield, Iowa?  Well, Smithsonian Magazine named Fairfield the 7th best small town to visit in 2013!  (Check it out here.)  Wow.  Wow.  WOW!  Who would've ever thought?!  My hometown?  To me, it's just a town.  In southeast Iowa.  Where I grew up.  With special memories, but beyond that, it's nothing special to me. 

Nonetheless...there's no doubt about it that my hometown is truly one of a kind.


  1. I saw that in the Smithsonian too! Jeepers! I felt the same way, it just was what it was growing up and it's definitely unique but to outsiders, it's definitely fascinating to them. It's amazing how often Fairfield is in the world news, crazy, crazy, craziness!

  2. Stuff like this is why I love reading your blog. I got out of the habit of checking it every couple of days for a while there but no more! I needs my fixes of the tales of Sarah...