In front of Longwood University's Lankford Student Union, students, families and others played corn hole and Frisbee, with the sounds of bands playing nearby through the afternoon.
Kamarin Bradley, 19, of Woodbridge, Virginia, said she hadn't been interested in politics until this year. It's the first presidential election she can vote in, and she says it's her opportunity to be part of something bigger than herself. Bradley, a student at Longwood, volunteered for the debates on Tuesday.
"People say it doesn't matter," she said. "But this is what shapes us for the rest of our lives."
With just hours until vice presidential candidates Mike Pence and Tim Kaine take the stage, campus is buzzing but not packed.
Kendall Arnold, a Longwood University junior from Richmond, expected more security and crowds. She said she wanted to be here for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But for she and friend Samantha Crutchley, a senior from Trappe, Md., the event is more about the festivities on campus than the debate itself, as they don't follow politics closely.
"When else would you get the opportunity to go to an event like this, especially going to a school like this that's so small and unknown," said Jessica Diaz, a senior from Warrenton, Va.
Having the debate on campus made Diaz follow the election more closely than she would have otherwise, she said. It also meant set up and construction on campus doubled her trip to class from 10 to 20 minutes.
Diaz wants Pence and Kaine to focus more on their own policies and what they're going to bring to the country rather than their presidential ticket partners and the scandals that have followed them.
"This is their one shot," she said.
As more people began to filter on campus, support for third party candidates was evident.
Luke Cromwell, 22, and Reese Sadler, 20, both of Lynchburg, traveled an hour to speak up for what they feel is a party that is often forgotten. They came equipped with signs and information.
"We felt like we could represent the third party," Cromwell said. "A lot of students have felt that they have been disenfranchised and aren't supported by Trump or Clinton."
Green Party participant Lauren Bolding grew up in Farmville and attended Longwood University. She has a connection to the campus, but says her voice isn't represented in the two candidates.
She's voted for Republicans and Democrats before, but no more.
"I don't like war under any circumstance," she said. "Peace over politics is what speaks to me."
She compared the two party system to a game, much like the Super Bowl.
"The ideology likens itself to game where there's a winner and a loser," she said. "That ideology is not something we need. If we are to rule the world, we need to lead with peace."
Activity at the First Amendment Field was slow during the day, according to Sheryl Swinson, executive director for Longwood's Hull Spring Farm.
There's been a mix of excitement and rush to get things done for the past couple weeks. The entire town and university have undergone a facelift, Swinson said.
"It's been unbelievable," she said. "The community and the university have really partnered together and you really have to ... there's so many moving pieces."