John, for what it's worth I think that the farm idea is a real good one. That's what the Oregon Country Fair has done, and very successfully I might add. They are now suffering the same fate of being over crowded. I'm not sure where they can grow to alleviate this problem. Growing pains are hard to handle.
I also agree whole heartedly with the idea that those who drag drum kits to the grounds to beat all weekend long, and by doing so prevent so many others from being able to perform due to the sheer volume of their activities should be banned, or at least forced to apply for their own spot on the bill. Give them their own stage, either far away from the highest concentration of performances so that their volume would not negatively impact other more quiet performances, or preferably something indoors like the space that was offered to the dancers this year. Placing this group inside somewhere would take them out of the outdoor mix of sounds and vastly increase the amount of room outside where folks could gather to listen to performances of lesser volume. There are also methods of muting drums to make them less of an intrusion.
There are many like myself who wish that they could have an opportunity to perform casually on the grounds to share their love of music and performance with the folks wandering about for more than just their half hour stage slot. Accommodating this group of performers in this way, who, by the way, vastly out number the few who are causing all of the volume excess, seems like a no-brainer to me, but I'm an entertainer and they are organizers, perhaps two completely different animals.
Concerning your busking comment, I'm not sure what folkloric value means either. I enjoy busking, (offering entertainment with a receptacle for donations), and I do strive to offer my unique interests within my particular performances whether busking or on stage. My guitar that I made from junk I found at garage sales, my crazy collection of sounds on my washboard, or my musical saw playing, all have what I believe are valuable folkloric roots. The style of my material has always been rooted in traditional forms like the bottleneck style playing that I love, or wacky and wordy old folksongs.
I am currently enjoying something I've never before had to my credit, playing about 40 of my original songs. I realize that this does make me a singer-songwriter but again my style and approach is still rooted in more tradition than most of what I've seen and heard out there. I like the balance I've achieved between old influences and my newer messages, but when I see that a rap band or a rock band has managed to get a larger stage than I at the folk festival I've applied to play at, as was the case last weekend, it causes me to scratch my head and wonder whether the organizers actually have the same outlook about all of this folk stuff.
When a half dozen drum groups are allowed free reign to ruin any opportunity I might have to share all weekend long due to their being hogs of the available listening environment and nothing is being done to deter this activity it seems to reinforce the idea that those organizing the event are not really so interested in representing what I find valuable. I guess it means that they find the activities of those with drums more appropriate to the festival grounds. Otherwise why would they allow it to flourish year after year?
Perhaps the busking overload will eventually subside as the Buskers Festival that the Pike Place Market Street Musicains Guild hosts gets up to speed. This will be it's third year running. It's still in it's infancy as festivals go, so they have all of this mayhem to look forward to as they grow. There are some good lessons to learn here.