The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

2019 RAGBRAI

RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride Day 5 – Centerville to Fairfield

Well we Took a Chance in Centerville last night and it paid off! We had an amazing time, as always. Time to head to Fairfield to Get Weird!

The route relaxes a little bit today with 65.9 miles and 2,328 feet of climb. We passed right by “Go” and headed to West Grove, Bloomfield (Meeting Town), Troy, Leando/Douds, Libertyville, and Fairfield. Click this text for a map of the fifth day of RAGBRAI XLVII.

Thursday is RAGBRAI Jersey Day on RAGBRAI XLVII! Celebrate all that is RAGBRAI by wearing  your 2019 RAGBRAI jersey featuring the iconic Iowa windmill and barn logo. Count the number of windmills along the route on Thursday and we can compare notes. If you don’t have a 2019 jersey, never fear! You can pick one up on the RAGBRAI web store or at any one of our big blue merchandise trailers on the ride. Just like last year, if you want a men’s sleeveless jersey you can find them at our “mini me” trailer in every meeting town.

Photos: Day 5 of 2019 RAGBRAI pre-ride, from Centerville to Fairfield

Photos: Day 5 of 2019 RAGBRAI pre-ride, from Centerville to Fairfield

Here are the towns that we visited today:

WEST GROVE

Everyone in West Grove was at work or otherwise away so we didn’t get any official details. It has an enormous park with nice bathrooms, baseball diamond, and sand volleyball court. It’s going to be a great breakfast stop at 16 miles into the day.

L&M Quick Shop is on the way out of town if you need any additional snacks or supplies. Between West Grove and Bloomfield there are three or four really neat souvenir shops that carry Amish and Mennonite crafts and food.

West Grove’s post office was established as the Weeping Willow post office on 21 June 1852 before being changed to West Grove on 19 February 1856. It was discontinued on 31 August 1959 and attached to the Bloomfield post office. Although its post office is gone, West Grove has its own ZIP Code, 52537, even though the ZIP Code system was not implemented until several years after West Grove’s post office was attached to Bloomfield’s.

West Grove was laid out as a town in 1853.

BLOOMFIELD (Meeting Town)

Welcome to the Hairy Nation! Bloomfield is excited to be a meeting town on Thursday’s ride for the 2019 RAGBRAI route! Bloomfield is a town of 2,640 citizens located about 25 miles east of Centerville.  Bloomfield is the county seat of Davis County.  The Courthouse is unique to Iowa with French Renaissance architecture built in 1877 for less than $50,000.

Bloomfield was incorporated, with a population of 300, in 1852. Bloomfield retains significant examples of historic architecture in both its commercial buildings and homes. The Bloomfield square Historic District comprises 41 commercial buildings and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

The RAGBRAI activities will take place surrounding the square in the shadows of the Courthouse.  There will be over 30 local and traveling vendors to compliment the restaurants around the square.  There will be live music playing throughout the afternoon to entertain the riders.

Davis County is home to an Amish Community, with many skilled craft and retail businesses around the county.  While farming traditionally was the primary vocation of the Amish, today many are skilled craftsmen and women.  Amish businesses in the area include fabric shops, bakeries, harness shops, greenhouses, gift shops, country stores, woodworking and furniture shops.

You will have a great time visiting Bloomfield!

For more information on Bloomfield’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:
https://www.facebook.com/RAGBRAIBLOOMFIELD/

 

TROY

Troy is an incorporated town in Davis County about 11 miles after Bloomfield.  The Troy Elevator dominates the area.  A beverage garden is tentative slated to pop up in Troy and with a few vendors.

LEBANON

Just a few more miles from Troy sits the unincorporated town of Lebanon, just into Van Buren County.  The parochial schoolhouse is currently being renovated as the school was lifted off the foundation while the basement is being re-constructed.  This is the Amish schoolhouse at the junction of Highway 2 and V64.  All of the efforts here will go to restore the Amish Schoolhouse.

The nearby Yoder Farm will host the fundraiser, just prior to arriving at the schoolhouse on J40.  There will be John Deere hit or miss homemade ice cream machine making delicious ice cream on site, homemade pies that can also include a scoop of the homemade ice cream, fresh grilled chicken sandwiches and drinks.  The National Guard water buffalo will also be here.

LEANDO/DOUDS


Have you ever been to the twin cities – of Iowa that is? RAGBRAI, welcome for the first time to Leando and Douds, two small towns located on the North and South side of the Des Moines River in historic Van Buren County. Since 1927 Douds has been home to Douds Stone which continues to be one of Iowa’s largest underground limestone mines. Douds Stone is where they drew their inspiration for their theme – Yabba Dabba Douds!! 

Roll on back to the stone age with them and celebrate all things Flintstones! From Fred and Wilma, lime dancing (line dancing), boulder lifting and Bam Bam Balls (cocoa pebble treats) they guarantee you’ll have a gay old time!

Though Douds is small, they have much to offer riders. They have three historic sites nestled in their town – the first on your stop will be located at Leando, the Valley No. 3 Country School which was originally built in 1928, the old school house carriage will also be on display. After taking a tour of old country school, hop back on your bike and head on into Douds to the Douds Railroad Depot which is on the official RAGBRAI bike route. This Depot was built in 1907 and moved to its current location in 1974. The Depot has been restored and serves as a railroad and mining museum. Lastly after you ROCK out in Douds, fill up with some grub and take a little time to rest, head out North of town and visit Mt. Moriah Methodist Church built in 1892, we think this is the perfect location for a RAGBRAI wedding! (…BMT this means you!)

Fun fact – until 1990 Douds was a “dry town” until Rob Moore bought and began to operate Moore’s Grocery. Luckily for you, Rob continues to run Moore’s Grocery and plans to have a beverage garden located just behind the store! They plan to have a DJ as well as local entertainment planned for the ENTIRE day! The Douds Kwik Stop will be serving grilled chicken and pasta salad, and their local restaurant, The Lunch Box will have ribeye sandwiches, grilled chicken, grilled pork loin, brats, SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM, homemade pie and cookies, and big dill pickles. We ate at both of the last two locations today and their food was tasty and very welcome after lots of hills today.

The Douds Elementary School will be selling pickle pops to help send local kids with disabilities to Camp Courageous as well as help fund the new elementary playground!

Two of their local churches will be located at the “Cook Shack” in Yates Park where you can try their Bam Bam Balls (mentioned above) and of course all the homemade pie. They plan to donate all proceeds back to the Douds Community Club which oversees all operations of Douds.

Other local food vendors include their American Legion, Goehring Brothers BBQ, the Lunch Lady food truck, and the Fruit Lovers!

They have a great mix of both local and outside vendors but be sure to give their locals a little loving!

Also – with their beautiful town located on the Des Moines River it gives you the perfect opportunity to dip those tires in the Des Moines River when you first enter Douds! The rare triple dip RAGBRAI!

With all their town has to offer, the loyal, hardworking and kind people will be your favorite and most memorable part of visiting. They hope while in Douds you get to enjoy the original Bedrock in true Flintstone style. YABBA DABBA DOUDS!

For more information about Leando/Douds’ RAGBRAI plans, visit:
https://www.facebook.com/Douds-Ragbrai-2019-1808225999283845/
https://villagesofvanburen.com/ragbraiDouds.html

LIBERTYVILLE

Aloha from Libertyville! Libertyville is excited to share their town with RAGBRAI for the FIRST time! Riders will be welcomed to our “Little Slice of Paradise” with totem poles, tiki huts, leis and plenty of grass skirts! They can plan on hanging out in the shade enjoying music, a variety of food, and some fun contests!  Local resident Nicole is the artist responsible for the totem poles.  All hand painted by her.

Since Libertyville is a Slice of Paradise there will be slices of pizza, slices of cold watermelon, and best of all slices of PIE. Show your RAGBRAI wristband and receive a free slice of watermelon. Along with getting a slice of yummy there will be wraps, fruit cups, kettle corn, BBQ chicken, and maybe a few surprises. Plenty of drinks too.

Tie on your grass skirts or dust off your coconut bras and get your hula on! They are lucky to have the 34th Army National Guard Band Scrap Metal. This 14-piece band will play a variety of LIVE music throughout the day. Show off those biker muscles in their Sexiest Leg Contest, maybe a few hula dance lessons for those brave enough. Defend your “island” in the jousting pit!

This Slice of Paradise has two watering holes. Peck’s Pub has been a pub for decades.  The other stop will be at the Dew Drop Inn.  Not only is the name inviting, but riders will find great hospitality and cold drinks.

The City of Libertyville purchased the school building in town in 2018. The community is working hard to get the building ready for a Childcare Center. By July 25th when RAGBRAI rolls into town, the community hopes to have children attending day care in the school. The Center is fundraising to pay off debts and to put a new roof on the building. The Community has donated over $100,000 for alarm and security systems, sprinkler, electrical, plumbing to bring the building up to code.

Riders will see donation containers around the area. Their generosity will be gratefully appreciated by the kids and parents who use Libertyville Childcare Center.

Libertyville’s other goal is to have an electronic City sign to keep their citizens apprised of the happenings in their town. They love RAGBRAI!!

 

For more information on Libertyville’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:
https://www.facebook.com/libertyvilleragbrai2019/

 

FAIRFIELD

This will be the fifth time RAGBRAI has been through Fairfield! We swear it gets weirder here every time (in a good way).

Welcome to Fairfield on day 5 of RAGBRAI, Thursday, July 25, 2019. Are you “Geared for Weird” and ready for a Steampunk Glow Party? Fairfield hopes riders are prepared to be entertained by “America’s Most Unusual Town”.

Fairfield is a unique, eclectic community with a reputation for arts, entertainment and music. They invite riders  to get off those bikes and spend the day exploring their shops and museums, grab some internationally inspired food at one of their many restaurants or relax and enjoy their parks and trails. It’s a big world out there and they’ve packed a lot of it into 5.5 square miles!

Here’s a sampling of local stops riders can make that will show them why Fairfield is called one of the “Best Places to do a Road Trip”.

Art & Galleries; If you thrive in an environment of visual art, you will want to explore the major galleries in town. ICON Gallery on Main St presents some of the most respected shows in the Midwest and the Fairfield Art Association Gallery, located in the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, specializes in showing local and regional artists.

The Arts & Convention Center is home to the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts which is active all year long with talent from all over the country.  This gem is located across from their historic Jefferson County Courthouse (completed in 1893) just north of the square.

If riders need a cool down period after the ride, check out the Cambridge Sports Plex, home to Fairfield’s indoor and outdoor pools with diving boards and a water slide.  The sports plex also houses their indoor track, three basketball courts, racquetball courts and other fitness areas.  Chautauqua Park, which also serves as a campground for RAGBRAI, has a 9-hole frisbee golf course available until campers overrun it.  Speaking of golf, there are also two 9-hole golf courses to play. Of course, if there is no such thing as “tired biker” they invite riders to ride their 16-mile loop trail which circles the community and takes the rider through a variety of pastures, wetlands and wooded areas.

Fairfield’s history is rich in agriculture and innovation and that story is expertly told at the Carnegie Museum and the Maasdam Barns historical site.  The Carnegie Museum is an Iowa Century Museum collection that dates back to 1876 making it one of Iowa’s five oldest museums. The unique collection features one of the Midwest’s foremost collections of Native American pottery, Civil War artifacts, Roman Antiquities, and area memorabilia. The Maasdam Barns offers tours that highlight early farming practices and displays of farm innovations that were developed in Fairfield. And to top it off, they even have a rock to commemorate the first Iowa State Fair which was held in Fairfield in 1854

Fairfield is home to Maharishi University of Management, the home of Consciousness-Based education, where all students practice the Transcendental Meditation program and study traditional academic disciplines. Tours are expected to be available, so stay in touch through their website.

The center of Fairfield’s RAGBRAI celebration will be on Central Park, smack dab in the center of their downtown area, surrounded with an abundance of local shops and boutiques. Not only will the RAGBRAI food vendors be available in the Main Entertainment area but there will also be over a dozen local restaurants representing food from over 8 different countries.  Take a moment to escape the heat and the crowd and taste some local foods that span the globe!

Of course, the big deal of the day will be all the steampunk fun they have planned for riders in the downtown area.

Entertainment; They intend to wow everyone downtown from 2 pm – 11 pm!

There will be 2 stages of entertainment plus various roving entertainers.

On the Main Stage;

Starting at 2:00 The Sidewinders; a pop ensemble from the 34th Army National Guard Band, making a return from RAGBRAI 2013.

4:30 – 6:30 Brat Pack Radio Band; Welcome the Brat Pack Radio Band, from Minnesota.  This high energy group brings dance-pop favorites and R&B hits. Add to that the visual spectacle – everything from knife-juggling and spinning keyboards to stylish choreography and an impressive LED light show.

7:00—11:00 No Limits; The headliner act, No Limits, will bring the party to Fairfield RAGBRAI. Recognized as one of America’s premier party bands, they’ll rock the joint with your favorite songs from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and the new millennium. Riders won’t find a band with more energy than No Limits.

And if that wasn’t enough, the lovely ladies from the Feist Club Troup will keep you glued to the stage between acts.

Roving Ruckus Side Stage           

1:00–2:00 and 4:00—5:00 Ragged Blade Band; If you want to familiarize yourself with Steampunk, then Ragged Blade Band is the ticket.  Out of St. Louis, they are popular at many Steampunk events throughout the Midwest.

from 6:15 – 7:00 Steve and Michela McLain; Fairfield locals Steve and Michela McLain known for their infectious harmonies, playful lyrics, and love of hometown.

Be on the lookout in the downtown for a few roving acts.  Professor Adam Smasher and the Eternal Frontier, a Steampunk Musical Duo, winners of “Starbummer Galactic Courier Award”, and masters of guitar, vocals, foot percussion, kazoo and siren whistle will be busking the main entertainment area.

Enjoy some awe-inspiring entertainment with Cirque Wonderland of Des Moines who will be taking part in their glow party with a variety of glow prop acts, including poi, hoop, contact juggling and stilt walking with props. You can also grab a special Steampunk/Glow party/Fairfield RAGBRAI keepsake with a caricature by Stephanie Org, (Caricature by Stephanie), drawn on commemorative “Geared for Weird” paper.

The gang here in Fairfield invite you to get a little weird with us! Strap on your goggles, don a Steampunk hat, get your glow accessories in hand, or better yet, purchase a white “Geared for Weird” shirt on line for their mashed-up glow party on Thursday, July 25, 2019.

Some sites to see in Fairfield:

  1. The Carnegie Museum (Fairfield’s former library building), was the first of 1,689 Carnegie libraries endowed by Andrew Carnegie. It is one of only 46 Carnegie Libraries built west of the Mississippi River. This Iowa Century Museum’s collection dates back to 1876 making it one of Iowa’s five oldest museums. The unique collection features one of the Midwest’s foremost collections of Native American pottery, Civil War artifacts, Roman Antiquities, and area memorabilia.
  2. The Bonnifield Cabin is the oldest existing two-story log house in Iowa. Many official guests, such as territorial politicians, governors, delegates to Congress, and judges stayed the night in the hospitable Bonnifield home as they were traveling through the Iowa territory.
  3. Journey back in time to experience the story of agriculture and agricultural innovation at the Maasdam Barns. This Farm was restored as a recreational, historical and educational center. Three historic barns and a museum are the major components of this former draft horse operation. The museum contains information about early Fairfield industries related to agriculture, general visitor information, and displays artifacts about the farm’s history.

 The area now known as Jefferson County was first settled in 1836, and became Jefferson County in 1839, with the new community of Fairfield as the county seat.

Iowa’s first State Fair was held in Fairfield on October 25-27, 1854, some 15 years after Fairfield was founded and four years before the first railroad came through town. The fair opened with the presentation of a 360-pound “great Denmark Cheese” to Iowa’s Free-Soil Governor-elect James W. Grimes by his friends from Lee County.

Fairfield’s library was established in 1853 and was the first library in the state of Iowa. It was first housed in a rented room off the city square. Fairfield’s library became the first Carnegie Library outside of Pennsylvania funded by Andrew Carnegie, who donated $40,000 to build the library.

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.

Some folks you may know who came from Fairfield:

Matt Stutzman—Silver medal winner in archery at the 2012 Summer Paralympics. Holder of the world record for the longest, most accurate shot in archery.

Ben Foster—Actor, raised in Fairfield. He has had roles in films including The Punisher (2004), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), Alpha Dog (2006), The Messenger (2009), Pandorum (2009), The Mechanic (2011), Contraband (2012), Kill Your Darlings (2013), Lone Survivor (2013), The Program (2015), and Leave No Trace (2018)

Richard Beymer—Resident of Fairfield, is an American actor, filmmaker and artist who is best known for playing the roles of Tony in the film version of West Side Story (1961), Peter in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) and Ben Horne on the television series Twin Peaks (1990–1991, 2017).

Major Charles Gantz—Charles joined the circus as a teenager and was billed as “the world’s smallest man”. Little people in circus show business often appended a title to their name such as “Major”, “General”, “Colonel”, etc. Chas. Gantz was born 27 Aug 1865 on a farm near Fairfield. He was unusual in that “he owned and managed his own shows while on exhibition, rather than being exploited by others”. He was reportedly 18″ tall and “very jolly”.

Mehitable Owen Cooper Fox Ellis Woods (1811-1891)—Fairfield’s most famous and well-loved Civil War hero was actually not a hero at all, but a heroine: Major Mehitable Ellis Woods, better known to generations of Fairfielders as “Aunty” Woods or “Mother” Woods.  As a member of the Women’s Soldier’s Aid Society, she helped gather supplies for Iowa’s union soldiers. When it became obvious that someone would have to accompany the supplies for them to reach their intended destination, Mother Woods obtained the necessary passes to make thirteen trips in three years following the sick and starved Jefferson County troops to Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. These trips earned her the title of Fairfield’s most acclaimed hero.

Parsons College was a private liberal arts college located in Fairfield, Iowa. The school was named for its wealthy benefactor, Lewis B. Parsons Sr., and was founded in 1875 with one building and 34 students. Over the years new buildings were constructed as enrollment expanded. The school lost its accreditation in 1948 but regained it two years later. In 1955 the school appointed Millard G. Roberts as its president and this began a period of rapid expansion with the student population rising as high as 5,000 by 1966. There was a turning point, however, in 1966 when Life magazine published an article criticizing the college and its president. Later that year the school lost its accreditation and Roberts was asked to resign as president. Enrollment quickly declined, and the college floundered with $14 million in debt and closed under bankruptcy in 1973. The last graduation at Parsons was on June 2, 1973. The campus then stood vacant for two years, with weeds growing tall, until 1975 when the Maharishi International Academy of Santa Barbara, CA, purchased it on September 9th, and sold it the same day to the Maharishi International University. In 1995, the name was changed to Maharishi University of Management (“MUM”).

Interesting Buildings:

The Jefferson County Courthouse is similar to the Montgomery County Courthouse in Red Oak, especially in its composition, facade treatment, and their clock towers.  Built in the fashionable Richardsonian Romanesque style, the courthouse design centered on a 142-foot high corner clock tower, but the top and some other details were removed in 1949 because of a violent wind storm. In Nov. 2004 a new steeple was installed on the clock tower to replace the one that was removed in 1949. The terra cotta bas-relief sculpture on the west wall is an allegory of Blind Justice, flanked by Harmony and Strife.

The Fairfield Arts and Convention Center opened in December 2007.  Although it is modern, the design complements the historic courthouse across the street. The FACC is the home of the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts, the first building in the United states to be named for the celebrated composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

James F. Clarke House (500 S. Main Street)—built 1915-16—this house is of considerable architectural, as well as historical interest. One of the most architecturally distinctive homes in the Midwest, it was designed by the prominent Prairie Style architect F. Barry Byrne, who had gained his uncommon skills working for Frank Lloyd Wright.

James A. Beck House (401 E. Burlington Ave)—built 1896—George F. Barber sold building plans via mail order in the U.S. and abroad, which the homeowners chose from a catalog. For an additional fee his firm would customize the plans, which apparently happened for this house, as it is more eclectic and elaborate than most. In an Americanized Queen Anne residential style, the polygonal turret rising from the second floor enclosed a game room in the attic.

There are many Maharishi Sthapatya Veda designed houses in and around Fairfield, and in Maharishi Vedic City. Maharishi Sthapatya Veda design is said to promote health, happiness, and good fortune. Each building faces east and has a central silent space called a Brahmasthan and a golden roof ornament called a kalash.

Amazing Landscape:

Fairfield’s geography is typical of the American Midwest: around the city is rolling farmland specializing in corn, soybeans, cattle and hogs. Fairfield has 12 public parks and recreation areas consisting over 1,300 acres (over 5.5 km2) and a “master trail plan” that includes a 17-mile (27 km) trail system

Interesting community feature/topic for media:

The city has an “abundance of start-up companies” and has been called “one of the state’s economic superstars.” It has received The Grassroots Rural Entrepreneurship Award, has been nicknamed “silicorn valley,” and was featured in a 2012 episode of the TV show, Oprah’s Next Chapter. It has been the home of Maharishi University of Management (formerly Maharishi International University) since 1974 and has been referred to as “the world’s largest training center” for practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation technique. In 2013 Fairfield was named by Smithsonian Magazine as one of “The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2013”

Recent research has brought to light that by 1856, Fairfield was on the “direct line” as a prominent hub of Iowa’s Underground Railroad.

Fairfield’s grassroots efforts to create a sustainable community that focuses on reducing energy and protecting resources have been supported by a position created by Iowa State University extension services and the City of Fairfield. In 2009, Mayor Ed Malloy was named by MSN.com to a nationwide list of 15 “green” mayors. Malloy describes the city’s agenda for sustainability as aggressive, and includes a Green Strategic Plan covering everything from conservation, local farms, local food, alternative transportation, and bike paths and trails.

The city was one of 21 locations to receive the state Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in 2013 after it reduced its energy consumption by more than 8% in one year. Fairfield has installed $60,000 worth of solar panels on its public library building and through state and local funding the city has created a $4 million “energy-efficiency loan fund.”

 

For more information about Fairfield’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:
https://www.fairfieldragbrai.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Fairfield-Ragbrai-2019-583663772082911/
https://twitter.com/FFRagbrai2019
https://www.instagram.com/ffragbrai2019/

Main Stage Entertainment: No Limits
Opening Acts: Brat Pack Radio & Sidewinders

PODCAST:
We recorded a preview of our journey from Centerville to Fairfield on the JustGoBike Podcast! Listen here: INSERT LINK HERE

Don’t forget to check back for daily updates and photos from the route inspection ride here on the RAGBRAI  site www.ragbrai.com. You can also follow the pre-ride adventure and learn interesting tidbits about the route by following on Facebook Facebook.com/RAGBRAI or on TWITTER by following @RAGBRAI_IOWA@TJRAGBRAI, or @RAGBRAI_Andrea

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