The forces of nature around Lincoln County include snowstorms, Damariscotta’s Pumpkinfest and Regatta, and at one point, glaciers. That list wouldn’t be complete, however, without the addition of Holly Zeller, a medaling extreme sports enthusiast, creator of an informal fashion contest, and Linaca Music Festival Host, with a fearless knack for making friends.
Zeller works for Mexicali Blues, in ethically sourced import store based in Maine, where she’s in charge of paid advertisements and email marketing.
“I’m very task oriented,” Zeller said. “I like to get things done so I can go have fun.”
A familiar face around the Pemaquid peninsula, Zeller is often corralling groups of friends into a new adventure. Whether that’s timing the tide right to float down the Damariscotta River in an inner tube or heading to the mountains for a weekend of fresh snow, to Zeller, that’s what life is about.
“That’s just always been my favorite part about life – seeing friends,” Zeller said.
Zeller grew up on Academy Hill in Newcastle, attended Oak Gables Nursery School in Damariscotta for preschool, then Great Salt Bay Community School, and graduated with the class of 2006 from Lincoln Academy.
While she was active as an athlete in high school, playing soccer and softball, her athletic feats didn’t really take shape until she made a big change in college. During Zeller’s time at the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College, she realized that the business administration degree she was pursuing was going to land her in an office doing a corporate job she didn’t want.
“I was just excited to go to college, and have fun. I expected that I would do well in school, because I always had, and that I would graduate and get a big-wig job in the city,” Zeller said. “Then I started to realize that my vision for my future wasn’t something that I wanted.”
After briefly changing her major to studio art to try to lean into something she loved to do, Zeller dropped out of college in 2008 and moved out west to lean into a love for mountain biking and snowboarding she cultivated in the mountainous Vermont landscape.
For the better part of the next decade, Zeller moved around, from Colorado, where she was a ski lift operator, to Montana and Idaho, following her desire to see the wonders of the world and cultivating her talents for snowboarding and mountain biking.
“Being out there was so awe inspiring all of the time, the adrenaline, and being around friends,” Zeller said.
Zeller attributes many of the big changes in her life to friends of hers involved in the sports she loves, some of which have since passed due to various accidents related to the activities.
“I owe a lot to my friends,” Zeller said. “Most of the pivotal points of my life were inspired by friends of mine.”
Zeller matriculated at Montana State University and, in 2018, graduated with a degree in graphic design and small business management and entrepreneurship.
After graduating, Zeller took the year to do something she had always wanted to do: compete. In total, from 2018-2019, she competed in 10 competitions for snowboarding and mountain biking from Colorado to British Colombia, returning home with an assortment of medals.
“My favorite victory was winning the Bridger Bowl Free Ride in Montana,” Zeller said. “That moment was so special for me, I was just having fun doing something I loved and was really good at, and I won a competition snowboarders don’t usually win.”
Zeller, who moved back to the Damariscotta area in 2019, hangs her assortment of medals on the back of her bathroom door, so that when it’s opened, they clink and remind her of the accomplishments that come with being brave and following dreams.
“They’re hanging there instead of the wall so that they make noise when anyone goes in the bathroom,” Zeller said. “I’m reminded that I’m 35 and am young and have so much life ahead of me and I’ve been so lucky to have been around the people I have.”
Zeller’s love for others is also highlighted in her role as the host, judge, and creator of Damariscotta’s Best Dressed, an informal competition affectionately known as DBD, where Zeller focuses on the fashion of locals and tourists alike while she’s out and about in town.
There is no schedule to it, but when the inspiration strikes Zeller, she posts to her Facebook or Instagram about who has won that day.
“It really was just kind of a joke and then I started ‘awarding’ random people I’d see around town who had great or unique style,” Zeller said. “People were always so caught off guard but flattered and honored; it’s a funny thing that makes people feel good!”
A testament to Zeller’s love and positive impact in Lincoln County was when she was asked by Lincoln Academy this year to host its Linaca Alumni Music Festival held at Schooner Landing Restaurant and Marina in Damariscotta.
“That was a lot of fun,” Zeller said. “They asked if I would do it again next year too.”
Zeller said she loves the way life has gone, from the mountains of the western United States, to her coastal river town in Maine, and the friends she’s made along the way, she feels like she’s put herself out there and made the most of it.
“I could die tomorrow and I’d be pleased with how it all went,” Zeller said.
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