Located in the heart of North Baton Rouge lies Scotlandville, a community that thrives on society and culture. Scotlandville has its own unique way of keeping the culture alive: Scotland Saturdays.
A community event and open makers market that provides a focal point for everyone in the area to get involved in, Scotland Saturdays was founded in June 2018 by Byron Washington. As a local cultural advocate for Baton Rouge, Byron started Scotland Saturdays to celebrate the people of the community and to keep the culture alive.
Showcasing local businesses and art made in the Capital City, Byron has created a space for entrepreneurial growth and opportunity in Scotlandville. This open market has not only provided the people of the city with a place to show off their skills and talents, but also a safe space to socialize and build relationships.
Here’s what Byron had to tell us about the event and what you can expect to find when attending Scotland Saturdays:
Visit Baton Rouge: Why did you start Scotland Saturdays?
Byron Washington: I lived in Scotlandville, my wife’s family is from Scotlandville, and I noticed that a number of small business owners would always go to these different markets around town and around the region, but there wasn’t a consistent makers market in North Baton Rouge. I decided that Scotlandville would be a great place to have an open market, and Scotlandville Plaza would be excellent because of its location within the central business district.
VBR: How would you describe the event to someone who has never been?
BW: I would tell someone to expect to be really immersed in Baton Rouge culture. If you want to learn about Baton Rouge, the North Baton Rouge community, or the Black Baton Rouge community, come to Scotland Saturdays and you will experience a taste of it all. We could go from having the Zydeco Two-Step to the New Orleans Bounce and into doing the Jig Train. Some days there will be cowboys coming to the event and just riding their horses around the area. You really get a preview of what it’s like to be immersed in this community and in Baton Rouge culture.
VBR: How has Scotland Saturdays grown since the market started?
BW: I would say the single biggest change is that the reach of the event has outgrown being just an open market to the market becoming a brand of Scotland Saturdays. It’s so much more now than it was before.
VBR: How does the event typically change month-to-month?
BW: Typically we’re on the last Saturday of every month, but it all depends on what’s going on. Last month was Juneteenth, so that was really the focus. This month coming up we’re going to have a back-to-school themed event since we are approaching the start of school again.
VBR: How can new vendors get involved?
BW: We do a lot of community outreach and we have a lot of new vendors come directly to us, but I like to tell all interested vendors to email us at email@example.com or to message us on social media. We have a website –www.ssaturdays.com – where you can register as well, and it links directly to our email database, which is how we get information about the event out. We like to keep a large database to stay in contact with vendors that can't make it to every single Scotland Saturdays.
VBR: What was your process for gathering business owners and local makers when you first started Scotland Saturdays?
BW: The logistics were pretty smooth because most of the businesses there were already traveling to these different event spaces with their tents, so they could just pick up and come to our event, but the first few events were tough. We had times when there were only 15 people showing up, and we just had to push through it. My goal initially was always to say, whether 2 or 200 people show up, we want to have the market because the idea was to create consistency. It’s one thing to host the market a couple of times here and there, but if people begin to see that consistency then they know that there’s something that they can count on and build from. It was the vendors who made this thing possible because they bought into the vision.
VBR: If you had to simply state, what would your favorite part about Scotland Saturdays be?
BW: My favorite part of Scotland Saturdays is when I see everyone just enjoying themselves. On my end, I take a step back and see all these people talking to the vendors, getting food, talking to each other, kids playing around and listening to music, other kids dancing and making TikTok videos, and a couple of adults hanging out and playing cards. That whole snapshot is the best part of the day. I really get to see my whole community in action, whether it be the young or the elderly and everyone in between.
It’s clear Scotland Saturdays has transformed North Baton Rouge into a community where everyone can feel connected to each other and the Red Stick’s culture, and Byron has no plans of slowing down. He has big plans to further partnerships with the city, focusing on promoting healthy lifestyles, youth involvement and African American history and culture through the event. And whether you’re a local or a tourist, there is something for everyone to get involved in at Scotland Saturdays.
The next Scotland Saturdays open market is scheduled for Saturday, July 31st from 4-8pm in the Scotlandville Plaza. For more information about Scotland Saturdays, how to become a vendor or for a calendar of events, visit them online or check them out on Instagram and Facebook.