Pick up a copy of our updated 2019 Fairfield Heritage Tour Booklet at many locations around town, (or view it on our Fairfield Heritage Tour website).
See a video about Fairfield on You Tube, by Iowa Cultural & Entertainment District/Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs (2 min 14 sec).
July 2018 - Fairfield Re-Designated as an Iowa Cultural & Entertainment District. And in August 2019 the City of Fairfield was re-designated as one of Iowa's Great Places.
The Fairfield Cultural Alliance is here to encourage and support creative expression in our community, especially in our Cultural District, through grants, education, and marketing. The Fairfield Cultural Alliance is pleased to announce that in July 2018 Fairfield was re-designated as an Iowa Cultural & Entertainment District by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs (originally designated in 2005).
Who we are ...The FCA was formed in 2005 to create and then administer our state certified Cultural District in Fairfield.
Our Cultural District has been designated around our Central Square and includes many of the historic buildings, shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues that we in Jefferson County have loved for decades.
⚫ Fairfield Cultural Trust Fund mini-grants.
⚫ Fairfield Heritage Tour book (Annual editions).
⚫ Annual Cultural Contribution Awards.
⚫ Yearly Cultural Networking Gala.
⚫ Awarded Fairfield Cultural District designation by IA Dept of Cultural Affairs.
⚫ Created Cultural Trust Fund to endow cultural programming.
⚫ Sponsored three community philanthropy forums.
⚫ Produced Dance Fest with approximately 70 dancers.
⚫ Hosted and sponsored Russian Folk Dance Group, Kudrinka.
⚫ Hosted IA Arts Council Grant Writing Workshop.
⚫ Hosted IA2020 Cultural Leaders meeting.
The Fairfield Cultural Alliance was appointed by the City of Fairfield to administer the Fairfield Cultural District. The Alliance is very interested in your views and ideas. You are invited to our meetings. Email us for meeting schedules - they usually take place the 2nd Wednesday of most months.
Our e-mail address is:
Gazebo on the Fairfield Square, July Art Walk. Photo by Werner Elmker
Do you or your organization have an idea for more Fairfield arts, entertainment or beautification, but need a little help getting it off the ground? Every year, the Fairfield Cultural Alliance happily offers Cultural Trust Fund mini grants to nonprofit organizations. These small grants will be awarded to cover expenses for creating events or projects that benefit the art and/or culture of Fairfield.
Grant applications will be reviewed on the following criteria:
⚫ Benefit to cultural tourism of Jefferson County
⚫ Benefit to, and number of residents in Jefferson County who will be affected
⚫ Past grants to your organization
⚫ Grants from the Cultural Trust will be used for programming and operations
⚫ Preference may be given to events/programs within the state-designated Cultural District
The Fairfield Cultural Trust Fund was established in 2006 by the Fairfield Cultural Alliance in collaboration with The Greater Jefferson County Foundation. The goals of the Cultural Trust Fund are to help qualified organizations provide cultural, civic, and educational programs, to encourage individual and corporate involvement through gifts and bequests, and to administer and invest funds for the creation of perpetual opportunities and services.
Those interested are invited to apply to the Fairfield Cultural Alliance, see our News page for details. Funds will be disbursed in December after applications are reviewed for acceptance.
The Fairfield Cultural Trust Fund was established in 2006 by the Fairfield Cultural Alliance in collaboration with The Greater Jefferson County Foundation. The goals of the Cultural Trust Fund are to assist qualified organizations in providing cultural, civic, and educational programs, encourage individual and corporate involvement through gifts and bequests, and to administer and invest funds for the creation of perpetual opportunities and services.
The policies and practices of the Fairfield Cultural Alliance are to carry out all lawful and permitted functions without discrimination because of race, creed, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, or physical or mental disability, and to treat them equally with respect to opportunities for participation as Fairfield Cultural Alliance officers, directors, employees or agents and as citizens benefiting from or consideration for benefit of the services, grants, programs and activities consistent with the lawful purposes and functions of the Fairfield Cultural Alliance.
Policy: Gender Neutrality
It is the policy of the Fairfield Cultural Alliance that all citizens participating in Fairfield Cultural Alliance services, grants, programs and activities, as well as officers, directors, employees and agents have the right to function in an environment free from all forms of harassment or gender based bias or prejudice. The Fairfield Cultural Alliance does not condone, and will not tolerate any harassment or gender based bias or prejudice. The Fairfield Cultural Alliance shall take direct and immediate action to prevent such behavior and to remedy all reported instances of harassment or gender based bias or prejudice, sexual or otherwise.
Policy: Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
No qualified individual with a disability will be excluded from participation in the Fairfield Cultural Alliance services, grants, programs or activities on the basis of a disability. Information concerning this policy may be obtained in accessible formats by qualified persons with a disability by making appropriate arrangements.
For questions, our e-mail address is:
Chris Bennett testing the Lee Gobble statue. Photo by Werner Elmker
The Fairfield Cultural Alliance is expanding their online Fairfield Artist Directory.
We are seeking Jefferson County artists working in all creative areas including visual art, music, theatre, dance, writing, filmmaking, etc.
If you would like to be included in this free online directory, please submit the following:
⚫ Your name
⚫ Contact information (including web site if you have one) for you or your gallery/agent
⚫ Your medium(s)
⚫ An optional short statement about yourself and/or your work (no longer than 50 words)
⚫ An optional jpeg photo of your work or yourself
⚫ Title of the work if you want it to appear above the enlarged picture, after your name. If the title is too long to fit, only your name will appear.
We will be happy to resize your photo — just include it as an attachment at the full size produced by your camera or scanner.
Please submit your info via email to -
If you have questions, email to -
If you would rather resize your photo yourself:
⚫ Orientation can be landscape, square, or portrait, up to 640 pixels in one direction and up to 480 pixels in the other.
⚫ 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels high will give you the largest possible thumbnail image — 200 x 150 pixels.
⚫ Make at least one dimension exactly 640 or exactly 480 pixels.
⚫ Square images should be 480 x 480 pixels; corresponding thumbnail will be 150 x 150 pixels.
⚫ The enlarger script adds a white border. Do not include a pure white border as part of your image.
⚫ If you let us make the thumbnail image, it will be a miniature version of your entire image.
⚫ If you make your own thumbnail, it could be either a miniature or a detail. The detail thumbnail can be the full 200 x 150 pixels regardless of the larger photo's dimensions.
⚫ Thumbnails should be either a) exactly 200 pixels wide and up to 150 pixels high, or b) exactly 150 pixels high and up to 200 pixels wide.
⚫ The closer your thumbnail is to 200 x 150 pixels, the larger it will be:
If this all sounds too complicated, we are happy to resize your photo!
The Fairfield Cultural Alliance is a local volunteer organization whose mission includes supporting arts and culture in Fairfield through grants, networking, and cross-promotion. Others are welcome to join us. Please contact us to learn how.
Resources: If you live in Jefferson County and provide goods or services of interest to local artists that you'd like to see mentioned on this page, send a brief description to us:
The Iowa Arts Council may be of some help. Their website states:
"The MISSION of the Iowa Arts Council is to enrich the quality of life for Iowans through support of the arts."
"The VISION of the Iowa Arts Council is that Iowans recognize the arts are essential to their quality of life."
Mural by Karla Christensen, on the side of the Revelations building. Photo by Werner Elmker.
I use high quality crystal beads with pure metal linking. It is my hope that the jewelry that I make can aid people to become who they wish to be. Each piece is made with specific crystal combinations in mind.
I am a hobby artist who enjoys serving the community with quality art supplies at reasonable prices.
I make primarily outdoor public sculptural installations, but, will make whatever my heart compels. I have shown my work all over the United States, Europe, Canada, and South America. My work is in many private collections. I am available for commissions.
My work frequently depicts surreal and fantastical elements with a tendency for unconventional beauty. I love the variety of shapes found in the natural world, especially arthropods. My characters often reflect my desire to feature the marginalized and unmask the “creepy” exterior of unusual subjects like insects.
Award winning documentary filmmaker and independent movie producer and actor. Credits include Kora (producer, director and cinematography), Finding Fairfield (producer, director and cinematography), Sister Patchouli (actor), Molly's Girl (associate producer). Current projects include Tirthraj and Fairfield, Iowa, documentary movies about the Maha Kumbh Mela and Fairfield in the 1970's, respectively.
Studio and Gallery on the square, mosaic lessons, commissions. Colorful mosaic work using primarily upcycled materials. Also painted tile work in traditional designs.
I create sound installations, multimedia sculpture, digital images, soundscapes, music, poetry, fiction, and essays. Installations 2001-2010: Timbre Diagonal, Photos from J-71, Ashtangakasha (Gallery 51E); Four Speakers, Water/Fire (ICON Gallery); Stairs (Emerald Gallery). Latest novel: "The Rules" (2013).
Videos: https://vimeo.com/cobb. Audio compositions: cobbsound.com.
Volunteer Director, Fairfield Art Association. Recognitions include 'Best of Show' at Iowa Artists Competitions, San Francisco - Golden Gate Exhibit, Midwest Art Fairs, and Governor of Iowa Art Award. Past gallery representations include Lake Tahoe, Des Moines Art Center, Davenport Museum. Suzan's work is in many public, corporate and private collections.
A nationally shown artist in 15 museum collections with solo exhibits in 2 museums and 30 galleries in NY, Boston, Chicago, etc. A fusion of Eastern & Western aesthetics with gestural, spontaneously flowing abstract and landscape references creating a vibrating holistic balance of color and form.
Landscapes and small town scenes from Iowa with the occasional image from my travels. Emphasis on light and weather.
The tactile qualities of the fibers that I incorporate into my art are essential to my work. Always eager to explore and learn new techniques and to continuously grow as an artist, I have incorporated many surface design techniques in my wall art and wearable art.
I design artwork digitally, using generative software, and print it on large sheets of high-gloss rigid aluminum. I apply math underlying natural forms to build 3D virtual sculptures. The aesthetics of randomness plays a part in most of my work, and is applied to both color and shape.
I create figurative and abstract sculptures that reflect the spiritual and the divine.
Style-making photographer traveling the world creating images, everything from high concept advertising and stock photography to travel, model, beauty, and art. Images have been used in over 70 countries worldwide (including: CitiBank, cover Time magazine, Bank of America, Vogue magazine, Microsoft Corp, American Photographer magazine and US Postal Service.
John has been a professional artist for over thirty years. Each image is printed on acid free paper from a carved block of wood, then hand colored.
My continuing series of paintings titled, Absolute Image: The Structure of Consciousness in Visual Form aspire to be more than just objects of beauty for the viewer. They aspire to sound an echo of that ultimate cosmic order, the Absolute, ever-present deep within the awareness of everyone and everything.
I am the Director of Iowa Contemporary Art (ICON) and Bill Teeple Fine Art, in Fairfield. I have been serious about making art for 50 years, with a degree in art from the University of California at Berkeley. I have taught art in Fairfield for the past 15 years.
I like to work in a variety of media and am drawn to art as a means to explore, express and connect.
I began programming computers to create screen-based art in the 1980s, using randomness to generate endless ephemeral collage variations. Some of my recent projects can run full screen right from your up-to-date Mac or Windows web browser.
Everything in view has a portrait and another story to tell. One has to take the time to see. My zest is to expressively capture visual memories of happiness in the spirit of art.
Laura allows the creative energy of life to dance through her onto the canvas with the hope of inspiring and uplifting others. Her colorful expressions illustrate an emphasis on value contrasts which create wonderful linear movement. Colorful, bright, happy, energetic are some words that describe her abstract expressionist style.
If you are a Jefferson County artist, find out how to be included on this list.
ICON, on the Fairfield Square. Photo by Werner Elmker
The Fairfield CVB has an on-line directory of Arts and Entertainment in Fairfield.
The Fairfield First Fridays website has a Fairfield Galleries and Venues webpage, as well information about the Fairfield First Fridays.
Some Organizations in the Fairfield area:
Note: The information presented below may be out of date or no longer correct.
Chamber Singers of Southeast Iowa.
The Chamber Singers of Southeast Iowa, directed by Elaine Reding, was founded in 1991 to give voice to the finest a cappella vocal music. The Chamber Singers are known for their diverse programming and dynamic performances of choral music from different cultures in a variety of vocal styles. The group performs two concerts annually and also sings for University and community events. For audition information or to make a donation, please contact the Chamber Singers at email@example.com, or call 472-1539.
Fairfield Area Community Theatre (FACT), Judith Ward, 472-3587
Fairfield Art Association, http://fairfieldartassociation.org/
Fairfield Ballroom Dance Association - firstname.lastname@example.org
Fairfield Concert Association, www.concertassociation.net/fairfieldIA/
Fairfield Dixieland Band, Robert Parkin, 472-3330
Fairfield Folk Arts & Dance Co-op, www.fairfolk.org
Greater Jefferson County Foundation, POB 1325, Fairfield, IA
Jefferson County Trails Council - www.jeffersoncountytrails.org
Northside Strippers Quilt Club, Shirley Thompson, 472-5402
Prairie Quilters, Deena Pech, 472-3273
Questers (William Henry Coop), Jeanna Foster, 472-5815, Questers (Bonnifield), Kathleen Bogner, 472-9375
SAC-FOX Lapidary Club, Bill Rathbun, 472-0286
West Coast Swing Dance Club, email@example.com
Wit & Wisdom Club, Joneane Parker, 1-319-693-4151
(Excerpted from the Clubs and Organizations publication, March 2006, by the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce)
The Fairfield Convention & Visitors Bureau website has a calendar on their "Events" page.
The Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce website has event information.
The free weekly Fairfield Weekly Reader newspaper contains an events calendar for Fairfield - every Thursday afternoon at a number of locations around Fairfield.
The Iowa Source is Iowa’s only free monthly arts and entertainment magazine, published the first of every month (except Jan), and can be picked up at a number of locations around Fairfield and in southeast Iowa. Or go to their website calendar, http://www.iowasource.com/.
Parsons College memorial in the lobby of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. The stained-glass window is from the college chapel. Photo by Werner Elmker
But first let's look at some recent recognitions Fairfield has received:
2004 - Named - Most Entrepreneurial City in Iowa.
2005 - Awarded - Iowa Tourism Event Award for 1stFridays Art Walk.
2006 - Named - One of Iowa's Great Places.
2007 - Named - One of the Best Places to Live You've Never Heard Off! (in Mother Earth News).
2013 - Named - One of the Top 10 Places to Visit in America (in Smithsonian Magazine).
2014 - Named - #2 Coolest City in America to Road Trip to! - Buzzfeed.com.
2015 - Named - Iowa Blue Zone.
1837 - The pioneer system of town and country schools began with the first school in 1837 with 18 scholars, two years before the county was incorporated.
1838 - Beginning with the first mill in 1838, industry flourished in the County.
1846 - The Jefferson County Agriculture Society was set up in 1846. The first "Annual Fair" was held in the fall of 1852, at which time $125 was offered in premiums for stock. The first and second State Fairs was held in Fairfield in 1854 and 1855 (see below).
1849 - Higher learning was available in Fairfield from 1849 when the Female Seminary opened, then Axline University and Fairfield College followed. Due to many struggles these schools were only open for short periods. In 1875, Parsons College was founded, replacing these earlier institutions, and through the years the college brought a great influence on both the economy and the culture of the County. Parsons College closed in 1973, but the campus was purchased for what is now Maharishi University of Management.
1853 - Fairfield was the first town in Iowa to offer library services to its residents. The library was first proposed by Ward Lamson in an editorial in The Fairfield Ledger. Later he worked to solicit funds, and the library was born in a rented room off the town square.
1854 - The first and second Iowa State Fairs were held in Fairfield. These fairs were sponsored by the Iowa State Agricultural Society, which grew out Jefferson County Agriculture Society.
1858 - The first railroad reached Fairfield (from Burlington, IA, which later continued on to the Missouri River). It is now the BNSF Railroad.
1870 - Various groups in the city worked together to urge the Rock Island Railroad to come through Fairfield instead of Ottumwa. The Rock Island went bankrupt in 1980. Parts of the old roadbed are now used by local trails.
1872 - A group of community leaders organized to encourage location of manufacturing establishments.
1882 - An early electrical generation power plant was bought by the city.
1887 - The Louden Company began, which became one of Fairfield's largest employers, and sold products worldwide.
1888 - The Joel Turney and Co. Wagon Works was moved to Fairfield from Trenton in 1888. City Fathers had convinced Turney to move here instead of Mt. Pleasant. For a time this was one of Fairfield's largest industries, building close to 2000 wagons a year.
1891 - Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie pledged $40,000 for a library. Carnegie had been solicited by his friend Senator James F. Wilson, a Fairfield resident who served in the United States Congress from 1862 to 1869. This marked the first time that Carnegie had funded a library in which he had no personal ties or investments, and led to his funding of about 2800 more libraries throughout the world (1689 in the United States). The building was completed in 1893, whereupon there was a huge celebration - people came from as far away as Des Moines. (Of note is the fact that in 1894 there were only 46 libraries west of the Mississippi River, with only about 400 public libraries in the entire country).
1892 - Arguably the Fairfield Golf and Country Club is the site of the oldest golf course west of the Mississippi River, organized in 1892.
1906 - Wit and Wisdom group formed - still in existence.
1948 - Fairfield Concert Association begins.
1966 - The Fairfield Art Association was formed in the spring of 1966 as a civic organization to foster art in Fairfield and the surrounding area.
1989 - Fairfield Area Community Theatre forms.
2002 - Fairfield 1st Fridays Art Walk was started by Stacey Hurlin, founder of the non-profit Art Life Society. State awards included the 2005 Iowa Tourism Event of the Year and the 2008 Tourism and the Arts Award.
2005 - The Fairfield Strategic Plan crystallized the vision we share to cultivate and promote Fairfield's cultural richness and recreational opportunities.
July 2005 - Fairfield Cultural Alliance was formed to administer the Fairfield Cultural District.
November 2005 - The Fairfield Cultural District was approved by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.
2007 - The Fairfield Arts and Convention Center opened in 2007. The Center is home to the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts, the first building in the United States to be named for celebrated composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim.
1. Copies of the book A Fair Field, a history of Fairfield written by Susan Elizabeth (Fulton) Welty, are in the Fairfield Public Library.
2. "A Brief History of Jefferson County, Iowa" is on the IAGenWeb Project website, written by Lucille Taylor, Feb. 18, 1977.
3. Much more Jefferson County history is on the website, The IAWebGen Project, including,
A photo of the 1st county courthouse,
First families of Jefferson County,
A look at farm life in northeastern Jefferson County in 1888,
And much more.
4. The two paragraphs below are from the http://www.iowapioneers.com website, which also includes locations of Resource Centers and various Records.
"Prior to the coming of white settlers, Sac and Fox Indian tribes lived on the 432 square miles of today's Jefferson County. White and Indian mingled well. Until the Black Hawk Purchase opened the doors wide to white settlement in 1833. The Indians were soon crowded out by the newcomers. The area's first school is established in 1837 with 18 students; two years before Jefferson is carved out of Henry County in 1839. Times change and by 1962 the independent school districts close and give way to Fairfield Community School System, formed that year. The county, named for Thomas Jefferson, had a population of 59 in 1836, 2,187 in 1840 and 13,119 in 1856. Population increased to 16,310 by 1990."
"An interesting point in the populating of Jefferson County is the fact that whole neighborhoods were packing-up and migrating to these Midwestern lands. They came from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. Swedish immigrants added their influence beginning in 1845 to form their first settlement west of the Mississippi in Lockridge Township. Other ethnic settlers were the French coming to Cedar Township with Germans and Polish to Walnut Township. The railroad came to Jefferson County in 1858. The first golf course west of the Mississippi started in 1892, as did the first Carnegie library similarly located in Fairfield. Agricultural in nature, Jefferson's rolling prairie and woodlands boasts 740 farms with an average acreage of 350 in 1995."
Carnegie Historical Museum is on the top floor of this previous Fairfield Carnegie Library. Photo by Jeff Fitz-Randolph
Historic Carnegie Library, from a old postcard. Built in 1892.
... was recently recognized as an Iowa Century Museum. The museum received recognition for its "continuous service to its community and public as a collection, preservation and educational institution for over 100 years", and is one of Iowa's 10 oldest museums. Documentation shows a Fairfield museum was in existence as early as 1877. More on the Carnegie Historical Museum website.
Presently the Carnegie Historical Museum is located in the former Fairfield Public Library, which was funded by Andrew Carnegie and built in 1892. This marked the first time that Carnegie had funded a library in which he had no personal ties, and initiated the funding model used by Carnegie for thousands of additional libraries.
At 112 South Court Street, on the corner of East Washington Avenue, located on the third floor - use the ground floor entrance and take the elevator to the third floor. Hours of operation are usually Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday afternoons.
Much more about the Carnegie Library Building on the Heritage Tour webpage.
Thanks to Lisco for hosting our website.
Supported in part by a grant from the Fairfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. The new CVB logo and tag line.
The new City of Fairfield logo, introduced Nov 15, 2016