WARRIOR, Ala. (WIAT) — Once owned by the Hallmark Coal Co. family, Hallmark Farm has not been used in nearly a decade – but Jefferson County and the City of Warrior are looking to change that.

This month the county and city entered a real estate agreement with the Alabama Farmers Federation, which means the no trespassing sign and lock on the gate at Hallmark Farm may soon be a thing of the past as Alfa Farmers works with all these entities to form the Alabama Farm Center.

The Hallmark Farm barn is an iconic landmark you’ve likely passed on I-65. The City of Warrior and Jefferson County bought the land before the pandemic but never were able to develop it.

County commissioner Joe Knight said Alfa Farmers is working with them to make Hallmark Farm a destination.

“It got in a little bit of disrepair, but we’re going to revive it,” Knight said. “We want to keep it iconic.”  

If all goes to plan, the property would become the Alabama Farm Center – a place for cattle shows, rodeos and just about anything agriculture-related that you can think of.

Alfa Farmers President and CEO Jimmy Parnell said they’ve locked in about 70% of the $185 million needed for their plans.

“This is something I’ve felt like for a long time the state needed. Agriculture is the number one industry in this state and the ag people would love to have a place they could go to and be proud of,” Parnell said. “Our vision is that we build a facility that’s not only good for Alabama – it’s good for the rest of the country. We want to draw events from around the country to come to Jefferson County.”

This is a vision that Warrior Mayor Johnny Ragland has not given up on.

“They stuck with us and stood by us and never gave up on the Hallmark Farms,” Ragland said. “It’s going to be one of the biggest things that’s ever happened to this end of Jefferson County.”

Right now, they’re running tests and making sure the property is good to go for development. Alfa Farms expects this “due diligence” phase to be complete by next June when they plan to formally move forward.