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Gold Country Fair tips hat to Eisley brothers

Nursery owners to be this year’s grand marshals
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Two brothers, whose nursery business has been solidly rooted in the community for nearly eight decades, are this year’s Gold Country Fair Boosters Parade grand marshals. Earle and Harvey Eisley, owners of Eisley Nursery in Auburn, will lead the parade Thursday, the kickoff day of the fair in Auburn. Eisley Nursery has been a flourishing part of the community since the 1930s. But the Eisley family has been in Auburn since 1909. Originally the family grew pears and plums on the Nevada Street property. Later they turned it into a chicken ranch, the brothers said this week. “Dad worked for the post office. He had the first rural route in Auburn,” Harvey said. “He started building chicken houses out of railroad cars.” The nursery got its start in the early 1930s when the Eisleys began selling pansies they grew in raised beds. “My brother and I planted a lot of pansies on our knees,” Earle said. In those days, the Nevada Street nursery fronted Highway 49, which was later rerouted. “People (driving by) would see the pansies in bloom and would pick their favorite colors,” Harvey said. Later, when Earle and Harvey got out of school and started working full time in the family business, they added the wholesale side. “We started selling to mom and pop nurseries,” Earle said. That was about 1951. Harvey Eisley was active in local politics during the 1960s, serving on city council and as mayor. The council dealt with similar issues then as it does today — taxes and sewers, he said. “Probably the most pressing thing that took place is the federal government was going to give out money for county libraries,” he said. “There was some consternation from some old-timers who were against taking the money.” When it came time for the vote, two councilmembers voted to accept the money and two voted against. As mayor, Harvey was the tie-breaker and he voted for the library grant. “That’s why we have a library,” he said. “(I thought at the time), the government is going to give out the money anyway, so why not us.” These days, Harvey is retired although he still helps out in the store from time to time. But Earle continues to work alongside his wife, Linda, two sons, two daughters and a son-in-law. “I also have two grandsons and two granddaughters and my great granddaughter, 9, popped popcorn for us recently (at the nursery),” he said. Over the years the nursery has assisted numerous local groups, donating plants and flowers to the Gold Country Fairgrounds as well as Virgil Traynor’s community garden. The Gathering Inn homeless program, Ducks Unlimited, PlacerSportsmen, Masonic families, the NRA and the Placer High School Music Boosters have also benefitted from the Eisleys’ generosity. The Eisley brothers have supported the Gold Country Fair for more than 30 years, fair officials said. “They’ve always been very involved with doing things with the fairgrounds and donating all kinds of flowers and materials,” fair board member Pete Thompson said. “They’ve been good people in the community. “ Thompson said he suggested them to be grand marshals because he knows both of them very well. “Harvey is very active in the SIR (Sons in Retirement) group,” Thomson said. “We’ve done a few things together. It was just a shoo-in for me.” In fact the interaction with the community is an important part of living and doing business in Auburn, the brothers said. “I like the people in town,” Earle said. “Our customers are wonderful.” Harvey agrees. “When I go to the doctor’s office or someplace else in town, and they hear I’m an Eisley, they say ‘I love that place.’ It’s so wonderful,” he said with a smile. It was great growing up in Auburn, which is in the perfect location, he added. “You really don’t have to go far out of town,” he said. “It’s close to the Sierra and close to the ocean.” Another thing the brothers take pride in is the level of expertise at the nursery — staff members know horticulture and how things grow in the foothills. If we don’t have an answer, we put them in contact with an expert who does, Earle said. That interaction with the public extends to special nursery events during the year. An annual tomato-tasting, salsa contest and tree-ripened fruit tasting is scheduled for Sept. 25. There are also soil clinics twice a year as well as training sessions on rose and tree pruning. And gardening is not just a business for the brothers, it is a passion. They both have gardens at home. Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com. ----------- Gold Country Fair When: Sept. 9 – 12, Gold Country Fairgrounds, 1273 High St., Auburn Times: 4-11 p.m. Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday The Fair Boosters Parade will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday Admission: Thursday, Saturday, Sunday — Adult (13 and older) $8, Senior (62 and older) $6, juniors (6-12) $5, Children (5 and under) free, parking $5 Thursday (Kids Day) children 12 and under free Friday (Auburn Journal $4 Friday) age 6 and over $4, parking $4 For more information: see goldcountryfair.com