If you’re one of the over 200,000 people who attend the Carolina Renaissance Festival each year, you’re probably familiar with many of the performers and artisans who make it special. Varied festivals take place across the country and performers travel to several of them throughout the year, making their AAA Membership invaluable. We chatted with them to find out how AAA helps them keep life (and work) moving!
Bettina Queen (Queen Isabella)
Though based in Georgia, the queen holds court at the Carolina festival. She commutes to Charlotte every weekend of the show and for several rehearsals in the months leading up to opening weekend. “I’ve been a AAA Member since 1999,” she says. “I eventually upgraded to AAA Plus — a decision I’ve never regretted!”
Her membership came in handy during a breakdown in South Carolina several years ago, requiring her car to be towed all the way home. “Luckily, with my AAA Plus, I was able to get a free tow for 100 miles,” she explains. “My mechanic was only 99 miles away! Whew!”
The queen’s proficiency in four languages — including American Sign Language — provides a unique and memorable connection with festival goers. “Once while walking through the village with the Royal Court, I noticed a mother speaking to her young son with the help of hand cues,” she shares. “I stopped the procession to chat directly with the little boy, without needing his mother to translate. His eyes grew the size of saucers that the Queen could possibly know what Cued Speech was. Every time I saw him that day, it warmed my heart to see his smile and a special wave just for me. I look for him every year.”
Ronn Bauman (The Tortuga Twins)
Bauman and his troupe have been entertaining audiences with comedic acts and antics for almost 30 years.
“I walked into my first renaissance festival when I was 16, and on many levels, I never left,” Bauman shares. “Traveling with my family full-time is such a special opportunity. There’s honestly no place I’d rather raise my family. My daughter gets to see all of the U.S.”
In addition to festival engagements, The Tortuga Twins perform at private events, weddings and other venues. With extensive travel to Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Minnesota and other states, Bauman logs up to 35,000 miles each year. Though Bauman travels extensively, he says Charlotte feels most like home to him. “One of our most devoted fan bases is in Charlotte. We’ve had generations of kids who began watching our family-friendly show and have grown up to attend our adult shows.”
With so much travel, Bauman doesn’t take his AAA Membership for granted. “We don’t leave without our AAA Plus card,” he shares. “We’re pretty much permanently on the road. You don’t drive without your AAA card like you wouldn’t drive without buckling your seat belt.”
Steve Cowan (Sir Mauldron the Baron of Blackburn)
Cowan grew up riding horses and participated in rodeo events as a teen. After studying theater in college, he moved to New York City to pursue his career. What began as a summer job to escape the hustle and bustle of Manhattan has spanned more than 30 years. “I heard about a jousting opportunity at a festival in Boston,” he explains. “We just kept getting contracts, and I eventually became one of the owners of the company.”
Today, Cowan and his family perform at various festivals from coast to coast. “I really enjoy what I do,” Cowan says. “I love exploring different parts of the country. It’s nice to be able to do this with my family.”
With a caravan of jousters that includes RVs and several horse trailers (they travel with nine horses), a AAA Membership is vital. “I’ve been a AAA Member the whole time,” Cowan shares. “I used roadside assistance recently when my battery went out. In less than 30 minutes, I got my battery jump started and I was back on the road.”
Although he travels the country, Cowan has a soft spot for North Carolina. “I lived near Greensboro for about 10 years,” he explains. “I love it here. I haven’t found an ugly part of the state yet.”