COVID-19 Info >

Request Info > Apply > Virtual Visit >

Engaging Community

Fairfield, Iowa, home of MIU, is one of those special communities that you never forget. Students who come here to attend MIU discover a rich blend of people, activities, and cultural opportunities. These attractions are so engaging that, if they ever leave, our graduates often consider Fairfield to be a second home.

Like other university towns, Fairfield is enriched by MIU-based cultural and educational events, but there are many fascinating activities in the town itself, all available to MIU students as a direct participant or as an audience member. The following websites offer information about what’s happening in what may otherwise appear to be a “quiet little town”:

Recognition and Honors for Fairfield

  • 2014 — The online news site Buzzfeed lists Fairfield #2 in the list of the “11 coolest small cities it’s time to road trip to” by Buzzfeed
  • 2014 — Featured on “Moving America Forward,”(see sidebar video) hosted by William Shatner, on Youtoo TV, a cable channel carried by Time Warner, Comcast, and others. The show highlights the accomplishments of individual business owners in the US — and Fairfield was the first town featured on the program, which focused on the city’s entrepreneurial spirit and how it affects residents’ quality of life.
  • 2013 — Named number 7 of “The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2013” by Smithsonian Magazine, based on its qualities of entrepreneurship, sustainability, arts, and culture
  • 2012 — Oprah features Fairfield on one of her shows on Oprah’s Next Chapter: “America’s Most Unusual Town
  • 2010 — ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA honors Fairfield with a Milestone award in recognition of its commitment to and achievements in climate protection and sustainability.
  • 2009 — names Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy (a University trustee and chair of our endowment campaign) one of the 15 greenest mayors in the country — along with the mayors of New York City, Chicago, and Portland.
  • 2006 — Named “One of the 12 great places you’ve never heard of” by Mother Earth News.
  • 2006 — Fairfield is named one of “Iowa’s Great Places” and receives $500,000 from the State of Iowa for community development.
  • 2004 — Fairfield is named Iowa’s “Entrepreneurial Community of the Year” — the first winner of this award — by the Iowa Community Vitality Center.
  • 2003 — Fairfield is named inaugural winner of the Grass Roots Entrepreneurship Award from the National Center for Small Communities in Washington, DC.

And it’s become a major Iowa center for arts and entrepreneurship.

Check Out These Amazing Facts About Fairfield

Sustainable Living

  • The Fairfield Go Green Sustainability Commission is developing a community-wide plan to incorporate sustainable practices throughout the city. This plan will impact areas of energy, transportation, infrastructure, agriculture, and municipal services. MUM is an active participant in this project.
  • Fairfield is the fifth largest market for organic food in America, and is home to dozens of organic farms, ranging from market gardens to 100-acre farms.
  • The surrounding county has more acreage devoted to sustainable organic agriculture than any other county in Iowa. Fairfield also has an organic dairy and one of the Midwest’s few permaculture sites.
  • Fairfield has one of America’s largest concentrations of solar homes, including many in Maharishi Vedic City, two miles north of Fairfield. Abundance EcoVillage—a community north of campus — integrates the best in permaculture and modern environmental design. EcoVillage is completely solar and wind powered, and has homes using only 1/3 to 1/4 the energy of conventional homes.
  • Fairfield and MUM co-host the annual EcoFair, featuring the nation’s leading experts in ecological design, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and related areas.
  • The largest natural food store in southeast Iowa—Everybody’s Whole Foods—is located a few blocks from the MUM campus.
  • A Fairfield park hosts the popular weekly Farmers Market during May through October. Vendors offer locally grown produce, as well as baked goods and a large selection of handmade arts and crafts.

Creative Arts and Culture

  • Fairfield has become Iowa’s foremost arts center, with many galleries and art venues.
  • The town also has an exceptionally lively theater and music scene with a community of musicians and other performing artists, and a packed calendar of shows and performances.
  • Fairfield is host to First Fridays Art Walk, which attracts visitors from all over the Midwest. Art Walk—held the first Friday of every month—is a fusion of many forms of art and entertainment, and has been selected as Iowa’s Tourism Event of the Year.
  • The Best of Iowa Film Expo each February is hosted by Fairfield’s Art Walk.
  • The new Fairfield Arts and Convention Center is home to the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts, a 500-seat theater which hosts a wide range of plays, musicals and other events.
  • Fairfield has more restaurants and coffee houses per capita than San Francisco, with a wide range of international cuisine including Indian, Mediterranean, Chinese, French, Thai, Italian, and Mexican. Also, many restaurants have organic selections.

Entrepreneurial Center

  • Over 400 start-up companies—including many by MUM alumni—have created 3,000 jobs in Fairfield
  • More than $200 million in venture capital has been invested in Fairfield companies
  • Fairfield has been named the Entrepreneurial Community of the Year by the State of Iowa
  • Fairfield received the Grass Roots Entrepreneurship Award by the National Center for Small Communities in Washington, D.C.
  • Fairfield’s Jefferson County ranks fifth among all U.S. counties in per-capita charitable contributions, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Recreation and Health

  • Fairfield’s 22-mile recreational trail system passes through forests, prairies, woodlands, wetlands, over bridges, and more. It’s popular for walking, jogging, biking, and cross-country skiing in the winter.
  • Waterworks Park, adjacent to the MUM campus, has a fresh-water swimming lake with sandy beach, playground, shelter, picnic area, and restrooms. Ten other parks are located around Fairfield.
  • The Raj, America’s premier Ayurvedic health spa, is located two miles north of Fairfield.