HITCHCOCK — For the past three years, Gary Cotharn, Galveston County Fair and Rodeo sponsor and chairman, could be found driving a golf cart from the parking lot to the entrance of the fair.

The 72-year-old’s shuttle service is the only free ride at the fair, which he proudly tells seniors as he waits to pick them up as they get out of their car.

“My wife had this idea. She’s always had a soft spot in her heart for seniors,” Cotharn said.

The couple started off with three carts three years ago and have bumped up the number to five for this year’s fair.

“It’s been a real big hit,” he said. “We’ve had several people who tell us they’ve come to the fair for the first time in many years because they couldn’t walk around.”

Cotharn has recruited friends and family to help with the cause. They patrol the parking lot and offer rides to people who need help getting around the fair.

Puttering around the parking lot Friday afternoon, he spotted 65-year-old Nancy Buffaloe, a member of The Lite Bunch booking team. 

She’s thankful for the shuttle service and thinks it’s an asset to the fair.

“It saves on our legs and our walking,” she said. “We’re out here for hours and hours, and it’s really nice.”

Cotharn is happy with his five golf carts this year but is already looking forward to expanding the shuttle service for 2015.

“Hopefully next year, if their budget allows, I can have more carts out there,” he said. “God willing if I’m able to do it, I’ll be here.”

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