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Bundy situation not an issue for Mesquite barbecue fans

One of the 900 cattle inhabiting the Gold Butte area, likely to belong to rancher Cliven Bundy. (Andrew Steiner)
One of the 900 cattle inhabiting the Gold Butte area, likely to belong to rancher Cliven Bundy. (Andrew Steiner)
Reported by: Antonio Castelan
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Updated: 4/29/2014 11:35 am
MESQUITE (KSNV -- They're fired up in Mesquite -- and not about the controversy surrounding the Cliven Bundy ranch in nearby Bunkerville. Hundreds of visitors are in town this weekend for the sixth annual Mesquite Barbecue Championship at the Casa Blanca Casino & Hotel.

"We have come to Mesquite to this contest now three or four times,"  said John Anderson of Napa, Calif. "We wouldn't miss it." 

The news of Bundy's battle with the Bureau of Land Management over land and grazing fees and the arrival of hundreds of militia members from across the country are a mystery to Anderson.

 "I have to admit I really know nothing about it. I have, of course, seen the headlines on the internet. I haven't paid attention to it." That seems to be the sentiment for locals and barbecuers at the cookout.

The sight of an armed militia doesn't come to mind for anyone here.

Matt Dillon, from Banning, Calif., says he sees more of a crowd compared with last year.

"We got off the freeway yesterday. There is zero impact here," he said. "Casino is full. I don't think there is any impact here."

Some local businesses feared word of a militia nearby would scare off potential visitors, but Steve Wagoner who is enjoying the event actually supports the militia.

"America was founded as militias," he said. "You take guns away from us then we have no way to defend ourselves from a tyrant foreign or domestic enemy."

Dalton and others are already looking forward to next year's barbecue championship. The feeling is that by then everything will be resolved between Bundy and the BLM.

"I'm not in the least bit concerned. We've been in this contest for the past five years in a row," he said. "It's a $40,000 contest. We've cooked here almost every Labor Day."

The event concludes this afternoon when winners will be named.

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