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Pastor of the 'Smallest church in America' harvests giant vegetables for MontanaFair

Micah holding a giant zucchini
Posted at 4:37 PM, Aug 11, 2023

JOLIET — The pastor of the smallest church in America, located in Joliet, harvested giant vegetables for MontanaFair on Tuesday. But growing vegetables of this size takes a lot of work.

Friday marked the start of MontanaFair at MetraPark. But before all of the action began, entries had to be submitted for the agriculture competitions. One Joliet man, Micah Snodgrass, has been a participant for the past 15 years.

"I’ve got a whole wall full of ribbons. Some best of show, blue, red, white, honorable mentions. Some participants where they don’t think it’s good enough for a ribbon, that kind of thing,” Snodgrass said on Tuesday. "The competition is fun. Fun to work with plants and the artistic stuff and all that."

Micah holding a giant zucchini
Micah holding a giant zucchini

Snodgrass was gifted a green thumb that he uses to grow a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.

When asked what he grows, Snodgrass replied: “Sunflowers, beans, cabbage, cucumbers, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, raspberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, okra, and gourds."

Some of Micah's harvest
Some of Micah's harvest

Before his gardening career took off, the 72-year-old pastor spent every Sunday in his small backyard church, Lighthouse Bible Church.

“We have an official seating capacity of 10, but we have had 17 in here," Snodgrass said. "We did a funeral last March, and we had seats in here for 18.”

Lighthouse Bible Church in Joliet
Lighthouse Bible Church in Joliet

The church, located at 507 W. Central Avenue in Joliet, comes with a unique title that Snodgrass holds with pride.

“The smallest church in America. It’s an 8x12-foot building. There are buildings that they have around that they say are the smallest churches in America, but they don’t have any regular services," Snodgrass said. "They don’t have a pastor, they don’t have an incorporation. They don’t have regular services, any of that. So this church is fully incorporated as a Southern Baptist church. It has Sunday services, members, and regular attendance every Sunday."

Church welcome sign
Church welcome sign

His church may be small, but his vegetables are big.

Snodgrass decided to enter MontanaFair's giant vegetable competition again this year.

"Got some good stuff in there," Snodgrass said. "We’ll just see how it goes."

He waited until the last minute to harvest this week with judging Thursday night. You can check out the entries inside the Heritage Arts Center beginning Saturday at noon.

Mid-bell pepper harvest
Mid-bell pepper harvest

"I’ve got a lot of things in there besides vegetables," Snodgrass said. "I’ve got stuff in the art barn and pictures. I always have a lot of projects. In fact, one of the projects I have in the fair is a medieval armor suit."

Snodgrass worked all year to ensure the success of his garden.

"It’s a lot of work," Snodgrass said. "I spend all year working on all the details."

But he doesn’t do it for the ribbons.

It’s simply about continuing a hobby he loves in his own backyard, with a small church and giant vegetables.

“I’d like to say I grew these vegetables. But actually, God is the source of all life and the Lord Jesus Christ," Snodgrass said. “We’d grow a giant church if we could get people to come."

Micah in front of the church with a giant zucchini
Micah in front of the church with a giant zucchini

To learn more about MontanaFair, click here.