The Michigan Country Music Hall of Fame was established in 1971 by Bessemer, better known as Buzz Rider. The purpose for the hall of fame was to recognize outstanding achievement by Michigan country music performers & promoters. In 1954 Buzz formed the Michigan Hayride which was an event held frequently to promote Michigan talent while also using Nashville talent from the Grand Ole Opry. Funds from the hayride were used to form the Michigan Country Music Hall of Fame.
The first members to be inducted in 1971 were Dottie Moore and Earl Peterson. Photos and mementos from the hall of fame were housed at Lucky’s Record Shop in Bay City, MI, until 1994 when the shop closed. at which time they were moved to Buddy’s Place, near Chesaning, MI. Here visitors could view the exhibits at no charge and appreciate some of the history of country music in the state of Michigan.
In 1997 the Michigan Country Music Hall of Fame was moved to Delton, MI. It was turned over to Bill and Maggie Aukerman who had already established the Michigan Farmers Hall of Fame and Prairieville Old Fashioned Farm Days. Prairieville Old Fashioned Farm Days was a huge event that took place Labor Day weekend on Bill’s farm. The event drew upwards of 30,000 people in a 10 day period. Bill also held shows with Grand Ole Opry stars during the event. It seemed the perfect fit for the Michigan Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Michigan Country Music Hall of Fame stayed in Delton and inductions were held there every year through 2014. At that time Bill approached Randy & Sue Leiter, who had moved back to Michigan from Branson, MO, about taking it over. Randy & Sue were both born and raised in the state of Michigan and inducted into the hall of fame in 2012. They have worked side by side with many of the celebrity and non-celebrity artists in the country music scene and were interested in helping to promote the hall of fame. In 2014 the Michigan Country Music Hall of Fame was moved one more time to West Branch, MI, where the Leiters have opened an office in the downtown area. Currently they have established 3 shows a year to help raise money for the hall of fame. Additional fundraisers throughout the state are being planned.