There really is a whole range of workshops out there from free to expensive that offer a range of things, and I don't see them necessarily competing with each other. I've paid modest fees (under $100) for workshops that were essentially "regional get-togethers in a learning environment," which sounds like an apt description of what these are, and they've been completely worth it. I met some interesting people, learned a few things, taught others a few things, and got access to interesting locations, which was exactly what I wanted. They're a great way to get motivated and motivate others to use the medium.
I don't think free and low-cost workshops necessarily compete with workshops that are more like a master class, or intensive study with a widely recognized artist or practitioner or someone who has particular technical experience in a specialized process.