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Golden Games honors longtime farmers market vendor

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Longtime market vendor honored at Golden Games

Leva Cochran receives the 2022 Shawna Tatman Memorial Golden Senior Award Thursday during the Nebraskaland Days Golden Games at the North Platte Recreation Center. Presenting the award are Jami Tatman and her daughters, Laramie, Savannah and Jemma. Jami is Shawna’s daughter-in-law. Shawna, longtime Senior Center director, died unexpectedly on Feb. 27, 2019.

The annual Nebraskaland Days Golden Games event honored Leva Cochran with the 2022 Shawna Tatman Memorial Golden Senior award Thursday at the North Platte Recreation Center.

Cochran, 92, is the last surviving vendor of the original vendors at the North Platte Farmers Market that started in 1976. In 2021, she celebrated 45 years of selling at the market.

Emcee Muriel Clark said Cochran has kept busy volunteering in the community as well as learning new hobbies including clogging, martial arts, small-engine repair and numerous other activities.

Cochran still lives in the house she and her husband, Bill, built on a homestead in 1948 that was part of Buffalo Bill Cody’s original ranch. She has three children, five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Bill and Leva were married for 43 years when Bill died in 1992.

The award is named for Shawna Tatman, a longtime Senior Center director who died unexpectedly on Feb. 27, 2019. Tatman’s daughter-in-law Jamie Tatman, along with her daughters, Savannah, Jemma and Laramie, stood with Cochran as she received the award.

Cochran started the Golden Games events with a robust “Let the games begin,” and participants ages 55 and older lined up for games and activities.

They took part in mini-golf, roping, cornhole, blackjack poker — not with real money — and several other popular events. At the end of the day, an overall winner was named and prizes were given for the best scores in each event.

There were no losers in the roulette wheel game, where everyone won a prize after spinning the wheel.

Royalty graced the event: 2022 Miss Nebraska Steffany Lien, 2022 Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Alexandra Thompson, Miss Rodeo Nebraska 2022 Bailey Lehr, Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska 2021 Brooke Lehr and Miss Rodeo America 2022 Hailey Fredericksen.

North Platte Mayor Brandon Kelliher shared his traditional “good” joke, but both Bailey Lehr and Brooke Lehr outdid him with “good” jokes of their own.

“Why was the broom late to work?” Bailey Lehr said. “He overswept.”

Brooke Lehr said, “A bad day at rodeo is still better than a good day at work.”

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