BELLVILLE -- Henry Richards knew his Steadfast Fly-In Hot Rod Classic on Saturday would not be your normal weekend car show.
The award-winning owner of Steadfast Manufacturing didn't want it any other way.
He wanted true car lovers coming to his home and business, located side by side on six acres along Rhinehart Road.
"In your typical car show, you have got guys that are going to roll in and they're going to sit on their lawn chairs all day. They are going to be bringing cars they didn't build themselves. And they are going to be hoping for a big award," Richards said.
"This show here ... there are no awards. There are no entry fees. These are guys who are in it for the love of the game. These are the purists," Henry said as threatening clouds rolled overhead.
"We know that it was possibly going to rain today. It's rained a few days around here. And we have guys coming from Arkansas and Arizona and Oklahoma who drove through the rain to get here. These guys are here because they love their cars," Richards said.
"Most of the guys here have built their own cars," he said, standing outside his own 7,800-square foot facility.
That building of cars is Richards' true passion. In 2020, he constructed a 1932 Ford Coupe that was selected a national Hot Rod of the Year by Classic Instruments Street Rod. It took 2 1/2 years to produce it from the ground up for a buyer in Wellington in Lorain County.
Folks buying from Richards, a Crestview High School graduate, know the final product is worth the wait.
It's that kind of passion that led to hundreds of car enthusiasts milling around the site Saturday. Hot rods and vintage cars of all shapes, sizes and colors provided amazing views everywhere participants looked.
Tall Timber Inn supplied tons of chicken wings for those in attendance, many of whom waited in a long line to register for the day's lone prize -- a car chassis being given away by Richards valued at around $22,000.
Richards said the show included seven completely Steadfast Manufacturing-built cars and another 10 his business had done work on.
Richards said the idea behind the fly-in was to give back to car lovers who have given so much to his business over the years.
It's likely the turnout exceeded even Richards' expectations as cars continued to roll into the show.
"I'm excited," he said with a smile. "There are a few cars here for sure. I didn't really know what to expect. I had no clue.
"I didn't advertise the show locally because I knew we'd have a lot of people coming in from out of state," he said.
The chassis is a symbol of blessings to Richards, who openly shares his faith in God.
"When we give that chassis away, I want to use it to share what God has done for us over the years. It's our way of saying thanks for all the people we have crossed paths with and the many wonderful opportunities we've had through this business and our passion," Richards said.
Richards said he has officially shut his shop down to new orders.
"We won't take on any more (new) business," Richards said. "I've got enough business to keep us going for probably three or four lifetimes. I always try to work ahead (in terms of orders) and we have more than enough to keep us busy."