6 Hours in Fairfield

Named one of America’s most unusual small towns by Smithsonian Magazine, Fairfield (population 9,447) is a mix of native Iowans and transcendental meditators.

March 28, 2016

Conflicting Opinions, 11:30 a.m.

The tree-lined main street that opens up to central downtown Fairfield is adorned with plentiful Bernie Sanders 2016 signs. However, we noted a lone, enormous Ted Cruz sign in a yard (surrounded by Bernie signs). Fairfield is part of historically very liberal Jefferson County and received visits from both Sanders and Clinton before the Iowa caucus.

India Cafe, a small local restaurant in downtown Fairfield.

India Cafe, a small local restaurant in downtown Fairfield.

India Cafe, 12 p.m.

Fairfield is known for its wide variety of cuisine, a result of the wide variety of people the Maharishi School attracts. We visited the centrally located, vegetarian-friendly India Cafe for lunch. The lunch buffet was decently priced at $9.50, well worth it for warm samosas and a local experience.

Domes and Exploration, 1 p.m.

Two grand meditation domes–separated by gender to ensure little distraction–symbolize the unique traditions that were brought to Fairfield in 1974. We walked along the outside of the domes and then proceeded to explore the area around them–a mix of housing, campus buildings, and athletic facilities.

A Consciousness-Based Education, 2 p.m.

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A view of downtown Fairfield from the outside of Cafe Paradiso.

Maharishi School and Maharishi University of Management share the same campus and consciousness-based teaching–a central part of Fairfield’s history. We visited the K-12 building and spoke a coordinator who led us in a tour through the school, which was moved from Goleta, California to Fairfield in 1974.

Cafe Paradiso, 5 p.m.

After a tour of the campus, we visited Cafe Paradiso upon request by many native Fairfielders that we encountered. We sipped chai lattes and people watched at the cafe, a haven for musical talent and good coffee.

Vedic City, 5:30 p.m.

Located on the outskirts of Fairfield, Vedic City uses an ancient Maharishi system of architecture, in which the houses are arranged in 10 circles. We stopped by the town (population 261) before heading out.

Astronomical instruments at the observatory in Vedic City, located on the outskirts of Fairfield.

Astronomical instruments at the observatory in Vedic City, located on the outskirts of Fairfield.

The Ascent, 6 p.m.

The one-hour drive back to Iowa City consisted of listening to Spanish pop music (Caraluna, El Mismo Sol, and Disfruto are our favorites) and conversing after a day well spent.

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