Deep in the heart of Southwest Georgia, near the junction of Georgia, Florida and Alabama, is Colquitt Georgia, a rural town that is an example of successful economic revitalization through cultural tourism. Faced with the challenge of dwindling stores and a shrinking population, community leaders Joy Jinks and Karen Kimbrel, working through Colquitt's Arts Council, created a folk life play that eventually created 60 new full and part time jobs and increased Miller County's revenue by $2 million annually. The successfull efforts of this small Southwest Georgia town is now being told in places as far away as Brazil and has given birth to a how-to manual on cultural tourism.
Swamp Gravy, Colquitt's folk life play, is performed in Cotton Hall, a theater and museum that at one time was a cotton warehouse. The museum features antique furniture, farm implements and military memorabilia. Cotton Hall is also the venue for the May Haw Variety Shows that are a part of the annual May Haw Festival. Mural paintings depicting eleven Swamp Gravy stories decorate the walls of the local high school and several downtown buildings.
The presence of the murals moved Georgia legislators to designate Colquitt as Georgia's First Mural City. Scotland's Global Mural Arts and Cultural Tourism Association designated Colquitt as host of the 2010 Global Mural Conference.
The success of Swamp Gravy has given rise to a new arts, crafts and antique store on the town square, loft apartments above the store and two innovative homes created from corrogated steel grain bins. A central piece of Colquitt's town square is Tarrer Inn, a restored historical bed and breakfast inn widely known for its cuisine as well as for its Southern charm.