The weather during this year’s Kentucky State Fair has been ideal, the best in years, and will help push fair attendance back to a respectable level after a dismal dropoff last year, fair officials say.

“The weather has been significant” and, although official figures won’t be published until Tuesday or Wednesday, paid attendance at the fair should surpass 600,000, Amanda Storment, spokeswoman for the Kentucky State Fair Board, said Saturday. The 11-day fair started Aug. 20 and ends Sunday.

The 2015 fair has been a far cry from last year, when paid attendance, dampened by downpours accompanied by some lightning and strong wind on several days, totaled 515,937. That was the smallest crowd since 1984 — and well below the 615,648 attendance in 2013.

The Kentucky State Fair record attendance was 684,356, set in 1994.

The temperature in Louisville has not reached 90 degrees since the fair started, and the high temperature during the fair so far was 88 degrees on Sunday, Aug. 23, said Ron Steve, Louisville National Weather Service meteorologist.

On several days the temperature didn’t even reach 80 degrees, he said, adding that “I’d call this an unusually pleasant last half of August.”

On top of that, only .04 of an inch of rain has been recorded in Louisville since the fair got underway, and that drizzle fell on opening day.

The high temperature this Sunday, when the fair closes, is expected to be around 85 degrees, with only a small chance of an afternoon popup shower, Steve said.

Storment said fair officials believe that some adjustments they made also helped prop up attendance. Those efforts included the pre-fair sale of discount parking tickets and lowering the age for free admission for children from 5 to 3 years old.

The fair also had strong turnouts on two $20 carload days, a promotion that hadn’t been tried for more than a decade, Storment said. The fair added a day to the World’s Championship Horse Show, and tried other special promotions, including a Christian Music Festival and a day honoring the military.

But Storment acknowledged that the fair officials took a major hit with the late cancellation of two Freedom Hall paid concerts, by soul singer Aretha Franklin and pop vocalist Meghan Trainor.

Storment said she expects that the 2016 State Fair will retain most of the new features used this year and added that “we are looking at other ways” to shore up attendance and interest.

“We tried to refocus attention on the fair,” Storment said. “We want to make the fair more affordable, a better value — with more free concerts, discounted parking, and giving people more ways to access the fair.”

Reporter Sheldon S. Shafer can be reached at (502) 582-7089, or via email at sshafer@courier-journal.com.