I’ve been to the Field of Dreams many times.
I’ve run the bases. I’ve walked through the cornfield. I’ve also hit baseballs out into the cornfield and I’ve even played pickup baseball games with total strangers.
I have been there.
What I was missing was a tour of the farmhouse. Specials thanks for Midwest Travel Network and Travel Dubuque, as I recently had a chance to stop at the field again and get a tour of the farmhouse and discover for myself the unique connection that exists between The Iowan Magazine (that I do a lot of freelance photography for) and the Field of Dreams.
Our tour guide Craig was dressed in a 1919 Chicago White Sox uniform and held the door wide open as he greeted you to the farmhouse. He handed us a generic looking business card with a link to TripAdvisor, and he encouraged us to fill out a review online and to check out the previous reviews, which I did. His reviews and others who conduct the farmhouse tours are stellar. They show how detailed the tour guides are and the value they bring to the tour.
During the tour, you’ll only visit the downstairs rooms. The upper level is available as a rental space. They take great care in protecting and preserving the house and you’ll see this when you enter as you’ll be asked to either add protective covers over your shoes or to remove your shoes.
The tour starts off in the kitchen showcasing how the space is literally stuck in time, on purpose, so it feels like Kevin Costner just walked away from filming the last scene. The kitchen stove was a unique item that was specifically brought in for the filming and then left behind by the Hollywood crews as a “gift” to the family. Rumor has it that the movie crews didn’t want to move the stove out, and it was easier to give it to the owner and it remains there today. The cabinets also contain a scattering of either baseball memorabilia or artifacts from the Lansing family that were used as background props that can be identified the next time you watch the movie.
While in the kitchen, we’ll also discover that everything has its place. The small TV on the kitchen counter remains in the same location where daughter Karin was watching TV during the film. In fact, the selection of the movie is even significant. It’s the 1950 movie “Harvey” with Jimmy Stewart. The director wanted Jimmy Stewart to play Moonlight Graham, but he wasn’t well enough at the time, so the role went to Bert Lancaster. Also of significance is the plot of the movie Harvey, where the main character sees a large invisible rabbit and his friends think he is crazy. As Ray grabs the remote and turns the movie off, his daughter Karin questions him, but yet he doesn’t see that his own life is about to draw comparisons to the movie Harvey.
As your tour continues into the living room, you’ll see it’s also trapped in time with a large boxed console TV adorned with a clunky VCR on top. Each of the decorations are related to either the movie, major league baseball, or the Lansing family. It’s here in the living room that our tour guide Craig breaks from the living room and slowly paces his way over to bay windows (which were specifically installed for the movie and left to the owner). As Craig went to the window to replicate a scene from the movie, he stopped and lost his thought… and then stated, “I don’t see that very often”… as a dachshund dog was churning its legs as fast as it could while rounding the bases and its owner was celebrating victoriously at home plate. Honestly, it was refreshing to see the tour guide thrown off guard and lose his thought. It was real and it was in the moment.
Everyone who comes to this place leaves with something different. But honestly, if you are a die-hard baseball fan, this really is heaven. You’ll find that your tour guide also loves working in their slice of heaven, as the Field of Dreams is Craig’s personal Disney World.
After the tour, be sure to walk out to the front porch and enjoy the swing that was used by Anna and Karin, as Ray walked through the nearby fields. The porch wasn’t always this way, it was expanded to be a complete wrap-around porch just for the movie.
Along the first base side is a set of bleachers that are original. In fact, the top step contains a carving that was featured in the film. It was created by Kevin Costner during the movie and states “Ray loves Annie.”
While the house and the field are all about preservation, there is one building that is new. Of course, that’s the gift shop. You’ll want to take a peek instead.
So what about the connection between The Iowan magazine and the Field of Dreams?
This is the scene in the living room that caught my attention. On the end table is the Sept/Oct edition of The Iowan magazine with a cover photo that I took of a train passing in front of Potter’s Mill in Bellevue, Iowa.
At first glance, it was just like any other time that I’ve spotted my work at Hy-Vee or Barnes & Noble. But then it occurred to me, everything on this tour seems to be placed here for a reason. What about The Iowan magazine, is this just a random thing?
At the end of the tour, I inquired about the magazine being placed on the end table in the living room and I was told that the producers choose The Iowan magazine for a small role in the film. Even though I’ve watched the movies several times, I never noticed the 1988 spring edition of The Iowan magazine placed on the dashboard of Ray’s VW bus as he crossed the country with Terrance Mann. It was assumed the Kinsella family were subscribers of The Iowan magazine, so to this day, they continue to leave the newest edition on the end table in the living room.
I’ve done freelance work for The Iowan for a number of years and I’ve also visited the Field of Dreams numerous times, but I was never able to connect all the dots until I took the farmhouse tour.
Now I’m feeling the need to queue up an email to the editor at The Iowan to see if I can get assistance with a press pass for next year’s game between the Cubs and the Reds.
Wish me luck.